A HARD WORK MIRACLE
The sculptor’s hands are shaped as they shape stone.
Statues are not ripped fully formed from wombs:
Shards penetrate, flesh is splintered, as unknown
Forms are coaxed with promises of eyes
To rest upon them; eyes to make them live
As something in this world. The artist offers
In return back down beneath a share of himself –
Trading the simple physicality of a deformation,
Or the complex buckling of a broken psyche,
For the capture of a vision: a David or a St Teresa
Ecstatic in his suffering, a man apart;
Standing finally in silent worship
Of miracles well won from simple rock.
I chipped away for many years, shaping myself.
Seeking out the curve of the right thing to do;
The soft arc of a listening ear;
Nicking at the tender hidden outline
Of the kindest word I could say.
Uncovering the firmest way to stand my ground.
I didn’t know any of it was in there.
It’s not so wrong to be satisfied with myself.
Wisdom is a hard work miracle,
Stuck down in dense stuff; waiting for the chisel;
Worth every delicate strike of the hammer.
He came to me a few weeks after passing
Falling or fallen asleep, I could not tell
Which side he was closer to. Still bearded,
White maned, uncertain gestures, perhaps
Surprised at his own death, though
It was long in coming – we felt the common shock
The path slumped suddenly beneath to burst our
Wheels, snap spokes, shift us into lower
Gears for rougher roads.
His face a midnight child
Not knowing dreams are merely fabrications –
And he was walking backwards, unwillingly;
But still going, clearly between here and
Wherever he belonged now.
I couldn’t speak.
Half paralysed, I watched him disappear.
Then slept, then woke up wondering.
Gödel with his axioms insists
On transmigration. Perhaps I caught him
In the act, psychotic with the dislocation
Unsettled till his next embodiment. Every babe
Or animal I see might have him in it.
Irish-born, Daragh Byrne has lived in Sydney for a decade. He writes informed by a longstanding meditation practice and his background in physics. His poems have been published in The Blue Nib, Backstory and The Honest Ulsterman. He was awarded Highly Commended in the 2019 WB Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia.