Cool, crisp morning air
Wrapped in mists from the valley below
Flickering light of candles through stained window glass.
Soft clang of cloister bell
Raises a community to prayer
Before the sun rises to chase the mists away.
Soft rustle of heavy habits
Draping cowled figures in the gloom
As they kneel in contemplation
As the morning Office intones.
Clack of rosary beads
Tinkle of communion bell
Clouds of smoke from censer, soft click of brass chain
All bow before powers greater than themselves
Each lost in a world of meditation
Within this powerhouse of prayer
Another day at ‘Mourilyn’ begins.
A lone monk stands at the head of the valley
Watching the heat send the mists rolling away
Smell of pine, of fir, of eucalypt
Snowbells blooming through the grass.
He watches, hands clasped into sleeves beneath flowing scapular
And contemplates the unseen.
He is unsure
Is he here for himself
Or for others?
Is this silent community his home?
Or is he just hiding from himself
A truth always known?
It is time to be free
To flee from this security
He will find himself
The bare bones of glories past
Of abbots and priors
Discalced footsteps in prayer
Scapulared monks clack rosary beads
Singing mea culpa to the sky
Desecrated altar bare
To the midday sun
Bleached now to eternal beauty
Clerestory windows open
To the winged flight of birds
Grand crossing floor now grass
Green softness under foot
Nave once holy
Now a foxes lair
Choir echoing pater nosters
From an era long gone
Host raised no more
A rare embracing of exposed bones
Shivering in the cold
I raise my eyes to belfry
Where tolls no more a bell
I turn my back and walk away
Overawed by the graciousness
Of the ruin
Our time together was brief
Our lives intertwined for a short time.
I want you to know that I miss you still
And wonder often why things had to be so.
I remember our romps with the dog
And our antics, stealing sweets from the corner store
Even though I always blamed you,
Isn’t that what brothers are for.
Nobody understood you except me
No one else seemed to care
They all thought you were slow
But I knew that the talent
To love and care was within you
And that you had no control over who you were.
I have never forgiven our father
For the outrageous, sudden death he thrust upon you
Have never forgiven the housekeeper who nagged him
Till his actions became uncontrollable.
I have never forgiven his family
For trying to pretend you never existed
That lying with our grandmother in her grave
Your memory should be obliterated for all time.
I wonder still and often
What fun it could be to have a younger brother
Someone to share my life with
Someone else who understood
Everything that went before.
Growing old together, and wondering
Just what you would have been like,
Are the things I miss about your passing.
But fear not, my little blond one
I write about you still
Hustle and Bustle of real life returns,
The airport a reminder of where we are
And to where we return.
The Dreaming is over,
Our spiritual journey at an end.
Sadness weighs heavy
Upon our shoulders, our chests.
Tears flow gently down.
Succoured by our native land,
Fed by the dreams of its age.
A journey started what feels
A life ago is now end.
Reality crashes in,
Time stands quietly, guardedly still.
We fly high above Kakadu
Not visiting now, gone.
We twist heads, peer back
Wish it was not ending.
Set our eyes for home.
Distant city trapped between seas
Arafura and Timor vie for your beauty.
Verdant green grass and shrub
Trailing bougainvillea, flowering vines
Silver fronds, red of Lipstick palm
Lining streets near deserted in the noon day heat.
From cyclonic rubble, from first buildings
Now in ruin and preserved for memories sake
Has arisen a city of great beauty,
Peace, silence, colour, modernity
No longer a poor relative
To cities further down
A teeming heart within
The heart of this great land
We lie upon the grass, shaded by tree
To relieve the humid, heavy heat
Surrounding our bodies
And we gaze
Across the Arafura and Timor Seas.
Moving through the cold desert night
Awakened from our warm, cocooning beds.
Night flyers seeking the right winds, we wait in expectation
At last to be told we fly.
Red and yellow teardrop rising into the early morning sky
Transporting us into another world.
Purple, pink, orange aura on clouds foretells of the rising sun
As we wait, our breath held.
Below us in the rising light
Kangaroo and emu run from shadow cast from on high,
A dry riverbed awaiting the rains,
Delineation of land by scrub, as if drawn by our own hand.
At last the sun appears, washing away the cool of the night. Disappearing for a minute more behind foamy clouds
It reaches its zenith on the horizon,
And at last, we let our breath go.
Floating gently back to earth, a basket in the swaying Spinifex.
The sun warms us again.
We are alive!
We have seen!
Early century ‘watering hole’
Dilapidated, run-down, arcane
Lost in another time
That told of depressions, harsh desert winds
Searing heat, and freezing cold.
An anomaly, a freak
No friendly faces to assist
A weary travellers trek.
Outback humour, only no one understands
The quirkiness of incorrect speech
Or toilet seats nailed to a tree
Underneath a collapsing verandah
Where, perhaps, once jokes were shared
With others of like mind.
Then to the street, and another scene emerges
Of bougainvillea, desert frangipani
And flame tree in full flower
And you wonder how can such beauty
Exist amongst the scattered ashes
Of an era long ago.
Drag marks in sand,
Crocodile belly bands to nest.
Geometric rock designs
Step up toward the red cliff face.
Contrast of red rock, and white
Stretching far above to green tree heights.
Now faint in the arms of time
Adorns the walls above our heads.
More ancient tales of food and water
For others who pass
Close by this way.
Pebble strewn bridge divide
Between gorge and valley drift.
Tortoise follows shadowed slip-stream,
Swallows nests below craggy ledge.
A place of stories, a place of time
Disturbed none by our presence,
But keeping us mindful
Of the ages of this great land.
I was asked today
How did I know
When I eventually fell
Totally, completely in love.
I pondered this for a while
Shrugged my shoulders
You just know.
It’s a feeling
Comfort in silences
An intimacy that is unexplained
A transference of pain
He looked at me as if to know more.
I don’t feel I answered his question
I don’t think I really know how to explain
Just exactly when you know you are in love.
Hidden gallery of art
Its artists long deserted
From the rock dwelling place
Nestled in its protective shade.
Stick spirit people,
Hunting red kangaroos.
While white kangaroo waits.
Flower art, outline of hands
Spirit people painting ancient signs
Of the lands true fruits
Its survival ways
Known to initiated, no other may go
To touch, to read these pictures.
A twisted vine,
Leafless in the scorching midday sun
Waits for times that are better
The cooling touch of rain
The cold desert night air
The silence of this gallery, lost in time.