Beyond the walls of any church,
between the lines in ancient texts,
behind the crumbled, cracking walls
I have sought the gods of this place.
Before others were imported,
if they came with those who traveled
(and sometimes I doubt that the case,
for once accustomed to a place
it seems unlikely they would up
and move here and there on a whim
or chance relocation to some
distant shore, lest for a good cause –
and who can guess what makes causes
just? Gods can be inscrutable)
there were other spirits right here,
energies that birthed and flowered,
changing form, being and ceasing
like in any place, alive.
I know they are still waiting here,
for despite the sometimes quite grand
displays that some claim for others,
I sense their hand behind the scenes;
They laugh, I think, at my attempts
to contact them by strange methods —
calling out dusty, foreign names
(whose owners can be found at home,
in the deserts where they may dwell,
perhaps, but need not travel here)
and reciting stiff and hackneyed
prayers, that describe embraces
between a Lover and Beloved
that are not me and these gods here
and now. These are not ancestral
roots feeding the tree of myself
that is today seeking water,
not a mere picture of a stream.
What need have I of these strangers’
gods? If I were by history
connected to them, tied through blood
across time, their divine fingers
laced with mine in a clasp of clan,
perhaps they would answer my call.
But the Semites, Egyptians,
Hindus and Buddhists have their own
claim of descent; and my Celtic
genes dispair of calling Roman
or Greek divinities my truth.
And Cernunnos, Herne, and Woden,
the myriad of Tuatha?
They call me, true enough, but stay
their ground, there in their own homelands.
So I have sought the gods that live
here, that dwell right where I am now.
Not in the visages of those
who bartered in Mobilian,
but who were found here long before,
without the names of man applied
upon their manifestations,
coursing formless throughout this land,
filling up and emptying swamps,
raising the river and scorching
through the summer months, their glances
giving and taking life and breath,
beyond the illusion of death
and waiting in infinite space
for those who seek them out and find
the universe inside themselves:
behind the crumbled, cracking walls,
between the lines of ancient texts,
beyond the walls of any church.
23 OCT 2003