Marah and The Well

marah

*

‘Twas dawn when Marah went down to the well

To fill her pail with waters bitter sweet

The sky, flushed pink with daybreak’s blooming swell

Made rosy dewdrops glimmer ‘neath her feet

The well was hard to find, and deeply hid

Within the sacred forest’s leafy fold

With ivy dressed, and writ upon its lid

In graven letters, words of wisdom old

Here water calls to water, here a stream

May conjured be by sorrow to a flood

Should tears like fishes fall and catch the gleam

Of sunlight, then shall water rise like blood

The air was still, unbroken by the lark

As Marah dropped her pail in to the dark

As Marah dropped her pail in to the dark

She held her breath, and watched it disappear

Stood firm, and stopped her heartbeat, lest a spark

Of morning’s glory light a single tear

But pain is force, that seeks to find a form

As hard to stem as ocean’s endless roll

And ‘spite her will, within her broke a storm

That rose unwanted from her ancient soul

Her tears burst forth, and waterfalls of streams

Flowed down and struck the surface of the deep

And as they fell were lit by glittered beams

Of sunlight, and the dead were woke from sleep

The waters rose, grew violent in their swell

Thus so did Marah ope the gate of hell

Thus so did Marah ope the gate of hell

Thus so unlock the door of death and birth

Unleash a tide too powerful to quell

Unloose the grief of all the souls of earth

Made waters rise, to breach the old well’s rim

Pour up, and drown the flowers in the grass

Caused birds to cease in flight, the sky grow dim

And clouds to form as shadows upon glass

She stood aghast, as heavy as a stone

As whorls of water swirled around her dress

Stood drowning in the forest there, alone

Too late to pray, to hope, or to confess

The waters closed above her sorry head

As Marah joined the legions of the dead

As Marah joined the legions of the dead

Her eyes began to fill with blood and light

With all the tears that man had ever shed

With all the dark and horror of the night

And floating past her, man and woman, child

All weeping, weeping, screaming in their pain

Possessed by loss and loneliness, gone wild

With disappointment, or the guilt of Cain

Here unborn souls, who died within the womb

Here mothers mourning infants took to death

Here those imprisoned, tortured to the tomb

Who cried for life with one last feeble breath

With those whose love was thwarted or dismayed

In one unending terrible parade

In one unending terrible parade

The labourers, the weary hungry poor

Those men who lost each pitch and toss they played

Who only spake the raven’s ‘nevermore’

With those stood on the shoreline when the Ark

Set sail for freedom and new hope of day

And those who, as they listened to the lark

Were by some wave or bullet took away

The blood of martyrs mingled with the tears

So sadly shed by all humanity

By souls lost to the night, who met their fears

On mountain tops, on roadsides, or the sea

So this is pain, thought Marah, here is shown

More sorrow here than I have ever known

More sorrow here than I have ever known

More pain than I could ever comprehend

And yet this pain in some sense is mine own

To rise above, to conquer, and transcend

And with this revelation, Marah rose

Up through the deeps, towards the hazy light

Unwove her being from the tangled flows

Flew through the waters like a climbing kite

Up, up she went, past all the weeping dead

And blessed them as she passed, for bless she could

Then broke the waters with her joyful head

And breathed the air that blew so fresh and good

Across the grass where once a flood had been

As if had been a mirage she had seen

As if had been a mirage she had seen

Seemed all the world just light, on rock and tree

All colourful, all shades of blue and green

And all that pain become but memory

She heard a whisper, soft within her ear

Go forth, and hold this lesson in your heart

You sought for answers, and you found them here

Now take them to the world and play your part

She picked her silver pail up, and she ran

The well sat silent, watched her fade away

Sat waiting, for another questing man

To learn its wisdom on another day

This is my legend, for ‘tis mine to tell

‘Twas dawn when Marah went down to the well…

*

© Gail Foster September 21st 2016

Advertisements

The Mystery of Love; for Olly Michael Lancaster

IMG_6336-1-2

I wrote this poem for my friend Mike Hopkinson’s little grandson Olly,

who will be three at the end of August

*

I am Olly Michael Lancaster, a special little lad

I love my brother Ryan, and I love my Mum and Dad

I love my funny Grandad, and I love my Nanna Sue

And we all love each other, like all happy families do

I like a little tickle, and a cuddle, and a rub

I like the feel of water when I’m floating in the tub

I like to giggle in the car when Grandad’s house is near

And I like it when you brush my face, and when you stroke my ear

I know you by your kindness, and I know you by your smell

I know you when you’re far away, and when you’re near as well

I know you by the way your pattern weaves within my heart

And I know that we are children who can only know in part

Oh, show me all the colours of the earth and sea and sky

Show me bright and pretty lights, and all the birds that fly

Show me shining mirrors that reflect my smiling face

And I shall show a mystery, and you shall see my grace

Oh, tell me tales of happiness, and joy, and fairy lands

Tell me funny nursery rhymes, and hold my little hands

Tell me all the stories that your Mum and Granny heard

And tell me all the wisdom of the world within a word

Oh, teach me about flowers, about butterflies, and bees

Teach me how the blossoms change to fruit upon the trees

Teach me of the moon and stars that twinkle high above

And I shall teach you with my life the secret lore of love

For I am yours, and you are mine, and all of us are one

I am the light in darkness and the shadow of the sun

I come to show and tell and teach the truth the ancients knew

I am Olly Michael Lancaster, and I love you

*

© Gail Foster 2016

The Publican and the Pharisee

 

*

The Publican and the Pharisee went for a walk after church

One wore pride and majesty, the other the marks of the birch

“I say, my man,” said the Pharisee, “will you tell if I come to your inn?”

“My lips are sealed,” said the Publican “let us sup of the wine of your sin”

The Publican and the Pharisee quaffed back a couple of jars

And then another two, then three, for such is the way in bars

And as they drank their wine, an odd phenomenon occurred

The crown of hubris lost its shine, the marks of the birch became blurred

“I say, my man,” said the Pharisee, “I’m feeling a little queer”

The Publican chuckled, mischievously, “Time for some shorts, and some beer”

The Pharisee, unused to drink, began to loose a screw

Became dishevelled, sweaty, pink, made a desperate run for the loo

Got locked in for a while, and had to crawl under the door

Got stuck, well hey, you have to smile, for half an hour or more

Was rescued by some rugby blokes, who loaned him some spare kit

And made up lots of witty jokes, about Pharisees covered in it

The Publican, sat at the bar, surveyed his sorry state

He wondered if he’d gone too far, in setting up his mate

“Just sit,” he said, “and listen well, for this I have to say

If I am surely bound for hell I’ll meet you on the way

You are no better, Sir, than I, no better, and no worse

Your spiritual wealth is an arrogant lie, and your pride is a cardinal curse

I’m no angel, I confess, but hypocrisy, mate, I abhor

I reckon I should grovel less, and you just a little bit more”

The Pharisee gave a little nod, and hiccupped in assent

Muttered softly “Sorry God”, and got his coat and went

The Publican then rang the bell, poured out a short, and sat

“Oh come on, God, you know the bloke, he really asked for that”

*

© Gail Foster 2016

Satire and The Soul

Kevan Manwaring, in his book The Bardic Handbook, suggests that we

satirise ourselves in order to see how it feels…

 

With satire comes responsibility

Thus spake the bard, regarding cosmic law

‘Tis true that thought and act and speech are free

But heed the truth learned by the bards of yore

What goes around and round will soon return

To that dark human place where it began

And pain shall be the lesson he shall learn

Who points his pen in anger at a man

Lest he forget, we none of us shine bright

That are not sullied by some silent shade

And he who seeks another man to slight

May curse the pen that bore the words he made

For what we see in others, we have known

Some simple human neediness or greed

The weakness we perceive is like our own

Who knows a tree that has not seen a seed

So satirise yourself, so spake the bard

Before you dare another man to mock

And turn upon yourself a light as hard

As that with which you wish a man to shock

Unshadow your shortcomings, write them true

Or fall upon your failings like a sword

For this is what you would to others do

And thine own self hast thine own pen ignored

Now weigh the pain you draw like blood from light

With cut of blade, of swift and vicious pen

Look down upon yourself from lofty height

As you would fain look down on other men

What do you see, but merely flesh and fear

A naked frightened soul that cries for love

All sorrow bound and clothed in darkness drear

With eyes up turned in hope to light above

Have pity, spake the bard, for every word

You wield will have the power to wound or heal

Remember what you here have seen and heard

Think twice before you cause a man to feel

The lacerations of your jagged wit

The schadenfreude of your savage ire

Lest you be made to join him in the pit

Lest you be so consumed in that same fire

He snuffed the candle flame, picked up his book

And left the poet, wise from sorrow shown

An unveiled mirror’s face in which to look

At imperfection that was his alone

 

With satire comes responsibility

For what goes forth returns, of that be sure

And you are that which you in others see

The naked frightened soul the poet saw

 

by Gail