Heathen Spirit by Judith George

 

i.

I know the numinous in the cold morning clatter.

A spoon stirring in a tea cup.

 

A love immersed

in vertical light, arising from reverie

as hoar frost, window panes rattled into silence.

 

The last dish being washed by hand.

 

A love I will keep reaching into,

like the snow’s blanket over the Douglas Fir,

stillness melted into drips

flowing.

 

 

ii.

I know the numinous in the numb

afternoon air.

 

A blue door in a wall of rock.

 

A love distilled

in hours, walks of faith,

mulch sucking wet these well-worn boots.

 

Unopened, as the mind.

 

A love I will keep reaching into,

a likeness emerged in zig-zag traces, a

fox’s tail, signs

erased from earth.

 

 

iii.

I know the numinous in the harried

nighttime trek.

 

A full moon swallowed in dark.

 

A love open,

half a red door glowing,

a black cat slung over its worn ledge.

 

A hesitant, leaning light.

 

A love I will keep reaching into,

the low rumble of television,

a timid knock. And then a woman’s voice,

“Go, go see who it is this blessèd hour of the night.”

 

 

iv.

I know the numinous in the hurried

daybreak tide.

 

A mountainous headland, hovering.

 

A love billowing,

legs dangling on the far side of the highwall–

caught off guard, soaked to the knees.

 

A walk back to the B&B.

 

A love I will keep reaching into,

a murmur more than a sound,

more like the dead seal you saw lifted on the horizon

of each new wave.

 

 

v.

I know the numinous in the warm

afternoon breeze.

 

A cairn in limestone atop a hill.

 

A love restless,

 

standing upright, the better for Medb

to watch over land and sea.

 

A canon with rotted carriages by the pub.

 

A love I will keep reaching into,

despite empty beer bottles and

cigarette butts, stumbling along the footpath

where a warrior still stands.

 

 

vi.

I know the numinous in the night’s

slow tension.

 

A face moulded to the ceiling.

 

A love enduring,

sometimes cruel and uncertain,

angles of light shifting to shadow.

 

A fit of coughs.

 

A love I will keep reaching into,

God’s touch (if there is) one of summoning,

not of promises granted or kept

in the moon’s daft light.

 

 

vii.

I know the numinous in the dull

noon patter-pitter.

 

A newborn tight-fisted.

 

A love

without question, cracks

in the pavement.

 

Dear shut-eyed one.

 

A love I will keep reaching into, fingers

on the wrist feeling your pulse, a

moment hanging

 

 

viii.

I know the numinous in the still

evening hush.

 

Tickseed yellowed in low sunlight.

 

A love travelled,

rail teeth rusted to tracks,

such silence.

 

Echo of silence held from times passed.

 

A love I will keep reaching into,

as currents against a seawall,

beyond an embrace returned

in memory.

 

 

 

 

 

JUDITH GEORGE is an alumna of the University of Toronto and devotee of Hart House. She won the Hart House Poetry Prize in 2016. ‘Heathen Spirit’ was inspired by ‘44’ of Maria Apichella’s collection, Psalmody (Eyewear Publishing, 2016).