Aware as I am that the swallows have gone,
Something of winter had burdened the sky,
A thorn apple grows in the closed wasted land,
But unlike the swallows it’s fruitless to fly.
This realisation is gentle and kind,
Like the comfort of clothing full fitted and worn,
Like the sweetness of wine that’s full bodied and ripe,
Like the scent of a hay barn with mouldering corn.
For reality tells me that all must be so,
And a south flying swallow may never return,
For all things of passage must pass to an end,
And for fire to have ashes the forest must burn.
For each and for every there must be a close,
And for each and for every a last bloom of spring,
From the last shock of snow at the edge of the wood,
To the final dawn chorus the blackbird will sing.
But spare me the knowledge for nothing should tell,
Of the last time I lie with the woman I love,
Of the last time her arms wrap me close as a prayer,
Of the last time a hawk will be chased by the dove,
Of the last time I see that the swallows have gone,
Of the last time I’ve tasted the full bodied wine,
Of the last time I face down the troubles within,
And cast out my demons in gadarine swine.
It is said that we may not know timing or place,
Lest we wait for the volley the rope or the block,
The mightiest mystery waits in the dark,
The light of the heavens, the shimmering shock.
Full precious the minute, full precious the hour,
Full precious the year and the month and the day,
Full precious the sunlight, the warm winds that blow,
Full precious the evening that steals them away.
I know it is coming I know it will come,
Like a curse and a thief it will plunder my dreams,
Like a witch with enchantments it circles me round,
And pulls at my clothing to sunder the seams.
I have life without fortune, but fortunate still,
I have loved in the living both fulsome and fair,
Caressed in the moonlight by calm watchful seas,
And kissed the most gentle to empty my care.
So why should I envy the swallows that fly,
For contentment is comfort for body and soul,
The thorn apple grows on the closed wasted land,
But I am at peace and my spirit is whole.
So look through the seasons and look to the south,
For the swallows return when the summer is near,
From a life in abundance I offer this creed,
As the sacrament hope and the sacrifice fear.