Visitors, diminishment

In sight, the kirk, we sup
it is neat the white paint
	and new plaster.
The sun it goes down to
	the laughter of men-voices
carry on a light, cool breeze.

We are pleased, in ourselves
	and in place.  A step
and a sail from the city

	to ease		and work drops
away, the weight and
the rasp of it, I have let go.

The minute, it is sacred, a
breathing of air, and a sorrow
at ruins not far from here

that saw praise and spirit
	ousted from the stones -
the seas' scorn lasts for

	generations of men.  I would
like to have seen how they lived
	the monks, but this is now
	and that was then.  This
island has a circular road
	and two spurs.  All else
are the hills and the heather
lying open, inviting, it is a
walking place, but the people

diminish, and we are visitors
	who know nothing.
Why do I want to know
what went before?  The people
have left their traces on this

land for thousands of years:
	their figures and their faces:
the swords of the warriors

	and the death of lambs
and the men who prayed
in cold rooms, with candles.

We are visitors here and
	we know nothing
	of earth's harsh winters,
	the deaths of children,
	the trust of parents
		and the waning of stones.

Collected Works
Return to Collections all
next poem