Faith in the dark


So there we were, tramping upcountry,
nowhere near the end of the world,
though maybe it felt like that,
especially when, at sunset,
the forest subsided into the eeriest
hush, and we might then
have glimpsed that point of infinite grace
they talk about in the old scriptures;
but once omnipotent night
slid over the campsite to reveal
nothing beyond a black more dazzling
than any darkness could contain,
all we could do was inhale
an immense presence touching everything,
which we called faith.

Possible friends
(after Adam Zagajewski)

Those who no longer exist
are the ones, bittersweet, we cling to.

Their keepsakes we embrace
too late: his capricious tartan scarf

you never wore, her booklet
of psalms and proverbs — they sting us

from what might have been, brittle
channels in the brickwork

of lost choices. And then
the universe of strangers, so-called:

that Heathrow cabbie
you converted to an ancient cousin

and then tipped profusely
as a kind of penance, the old Belgrade poet

who pocketed, for you,
a two-millennium tile at Viminacium

(you tried so hard yet he couldn't grasp
your refusal, your antique ethics)

or the aging waitress at LAX
diminished over a perfect spoilt romance,

her voice a far-off waltz
you almost recognized from — where?

How many faces in the pinball metropolis
with proud eyes flashing by

are faces we have once crossed already
(and if not, in a previous life);

how many, in a parallel moment,
if we should only stop each other to listen,

might grow into our lifelong familiars —
to sit with us, debate Heraclitus,

elucidate the essence of the Preludes,
or tell us just who we are?

De la nature

Our friendship was purely aristotelian,
all ethics and poetics, but no law
to commandeer doubt or dialogue;

There was no sharp agony of alternatives,
no sticky neo-nietzschean imperative,
no will to profounder cleansing;

At the time (of course) one felt quite thirty,
executor of a divine estate
amid all those tabloid rumours of demise;

We trudged colosseums of becoming,
our connectedness, more euclidean now,
still kindled a stern metaphysic;

Though at last (the universe cooling)
one noticed the global glow
that wriggled from the tar-line up ahead;

And made haste placidly — was it not
just around the corner of a page,
nearly there, we were treading time;

Our friendship grew quaintly cartesian,
all seven-way mirrors and equations,
and we flirted with dialogue and doubt;

Little knowing what awaited here,
we exulted in the chorus and the comedy,
wading forward, still quite thirty.

Alex SkovronAlex Skovron is the author of five collections of poetry and a prose novella. He lives in Melbourne. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, Alex Skovron, Faith, possible friends, Adam Zagajewski, De la nature



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