Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday:
The annual occasion
For the laity
To utter lines from the Gospel,
Aloud in Mass.

But
We only get to say
The mean lines,
The cowardly protestations,
To remind us of our responsibility now
For what happened then.
At fault, failing,
Fallen!

We hold our tame, desiccated, palm leaf crosses,
Wan imitations of lush, green branches,
Self-consciously, englishly singing our ‘Hosannas’.

When I was a child,
The palm leaves came pale and straight.
We had to fashion
Our own crosses;
An art handed down
And executed with varying outcomes,
Revealing something of personality alongside skill level.
Lopsided mine were,
Always.

At home
My mother kept the crosses
On hearth and mantlepiece.
Not superstitious,
When lightning and thunder
Rattled the roof and her courage,
She would
Burn a palm in the fire;
An acrid prayer offering for protection.
We never doubted it would work.

And so I keep them now,
These uniform-issue crosses,
Woven together higgledy-piggledy,
On a windowsill,
Although I have no fire.

And so here,
Here is a palm in the palm of your hand.
Palm cross my hand with silver;
Thirty pieces perhaps?
Here is your future.
You will let
Everyone
Down
At some point;
More than once, like as not.

But that is alright.
Your lopsided or uniform cross
May be a pale imitation,
But the green branches
Can still be seen.
The exultant shouts
Can still be heard.

See
Beyond the cruelty,
The meanness,
The cowardice,
The lies,
That made the crowd then,
That make us now
Less
Than what we truly are.

See
The stone in the heart
Rolled away
And sing it!
‘Hosanna!’

copyright 2017 Tina Towey

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Lazarus

In the beginning,
I could not speak;
My throat full of sand and spices.

Since then
I choose not to .

I see the sideways glances,
Nudges as I cross paths,
The question unasked
Because they fear the reply,
What was it like
Being dead?

The answer?
I cannot give
Because the memory
– If it is even a memory –
Has spun away,
A dream irretrievable.

A mind and body
Of pins and needles;
My senses
My body
Clumsy now.
I wield them awkward and blunt,
Like a man in heavy armour,
Lumbering,
Trapped.
This is my new life?

Why did he do it?
Because he could?
To show off?
Because he couldn’t bear
To see a woman cry?

Because he missed you!
My sisters tell me.
And yet he is gone again
Without me.
Without explaining why.

No chance for me to ask,
What do I do now?
Resurrected
For what?
For how long?
Am I real?

How to live,
Again,
In this world
I left behind.
How to live
A new life,
In the old body,
In the old places.

Catching the tourist neighbours,
Awe-whispering over the snakeskin linen,
Filching pieces for their ‘healing properties’,
My sisters,
In rare agreement ,
Burnt the bindings
Without telling me
– The strange incense gave them away –
For fear I would wish to save
The souvenir of my ‘trip’.

They watch me
All the time
And sometimes,
For mischief,
I hold my breath;
Listening for the panic rising in theirs.
Then I exhale loudly
And they sigh in echo.

I know,
I know,
Cruel and ungrateful.

Now , from where I sit
Fussed into the shady warm,
Here
Rest here
The sun is blinding today!
I hear them on their familiar tracks.

Martha sighing theatrically through her chores
Mary deliberately oblivious,
Humming softly,
Contemplating the wind-skittered path to the hills.

Later
They will row,
Again.
Martha thunder,
Mary lightning.

And as before
They will look to me
To arbitrate, conciliate.

And I know
I can choose,
Now I am resurrected,
To be their old Lazarus,
Dear,
Dear brother,
Make our peace!

But I think
I who am now
Will not
Intervene.

copyright Tina Towey 2017

Mercy’s Quality

I am somewhat perplexed by ceremonies being held in churches to ‘close’ the doors of mercy as the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis comes to an end.

Mercy Shimmers;
A looking glass lake,
Precarious reflection
Of our possibilities.

The tension trembles;
Will it hold?

The outstretched arms
Strain
To keep the Taut.

Mercy shimmers.
It does not break.
It holds,
Is held,
As are we.

The reflection
Quivers,
But we can see
In the glass clearly,

Because
The outstretched arms
Stay
And strain
To
The last
Breath.

copyright Tina Towey 2017

One Foot In Front Of The Other

The everyday bravery
Of a smile to hide
The empty fridge
From the children.
Of stepping out of the door
Alone and newly widowed.
Of entering the pit cage
First day underground.
Of putting up your hand
“Please, Miss, I don’t understand.”
Of asking
“Will you marry me?”
Of coming into this world
And leaving it.

copyright Tina Towey 2016

The Hand Fasting

For Jo and Malcolm

A simple symbol,
The Weighty cord
Passed round,
And round,
And round again.

And knotted firm,
While they shyspoke
Heartbeat vows.

And we,
The witnesses,
Heart-fasted;
Bound also
In pledge of love.
We are
For them
Always.

When it was untied
And put aside,
We saw it still
In the gaze between them
Unbreakable.

copyright Tina Towey 2016

 

Jumping Waves

In Memory of Mum -Mary Towey
28/05/1923 - 07/07/2016

My small child,
On seeing the sea,
Rippling in upon the beach,
Asked in awe and trepidation,
"Where's the deep end?"
How to explain
That the sea
Is something quite other
To a swimming pool;
Not tamed and limited.

I remembered
Another beach -
The beautiful breakers
On Ballybunion.
Afraid, yet exhilarated,
My hand, my trust
Firmly held by my mother,
My brother on her other hand.

Stepping deeper,
Pulling us further in,
She taught us
The age-old joy
Of jumping waves!
Showing us
How to time our leaps
Just
Before the wave broke.
Her iron grip
Hauling us upright,
When we stumbled.

She
Whooping!
Dancing from foot to foot
To teach us
This was not an experience to fear
But to delight in.
Until we learned
To go it alone
And she let go our hands,
Confident in our own judgement.

I take my child's hand
And run,
Laughing,
Into the startling water.
"Come on!" I shout
"Let me show you
How to jump waves!"

copyright Tina Towey 2016

 

Imperative

On my windbuffed shore
No pen, paper, stoppered bottle
I hear the imperative
“Write!”

So I
Fingercarve my message
Into the sand
Until the insistent eventide
Carries it away

Pounds it thundering
Onto far blazed beaches
Or whispers it in spent ripples
In quiet coves
Or swirls it
Into the whorls of a shell

What did I write?

Can you read it?

Hear it?

Oh
Pray you do!

And write back.
Write on.
Write back.
Write on.
Write back.
Write on…

Copyright Tina Towey 2016