Friday, December 02, 2011

We had tired of confusion - a poem by Roger Lipsey

We had tired of confusion, stupidity, and evil
And so we climbed the mountain to see
From a great height, through clearest air,
The grand design. We saw the abstract
Of experience: the sacred algorithm
That shakes itself into ten thousand forms and lives,
Sets the swarm in motion though it is simple in itself,
Even slightly naive.

We were dazzled. But my wife was soon uneasy.
'I miss little things,' she said. 'I can’t see threads or bugs
Or harmless errors. I can’t see second tries.
Can we go down the mountain just a bit?

And so we turned from the source
And descended to a col at middle height
Where the view was narrower but scarcely less grand.
To our surprise we heard voices, wing beats,
Newborns wailing, leaves unfolding from moist stems,
Footsteps, breaths... And conspiracy, bloodshed, folly.
Light and dark mix there: the sacred algorithm hesitates,
Shivers like a doubting creature, and resumes its faithful plunge.

We were dazzled. But my wife was uneasy.
'I hear our niece weeping,' she said. 'We must go to her.'
And so we left the mountain and dined that evening
With our niece, who needed only kindness to smile again.
But I could not free myself from longing to return to the heights:
Like the faint scent of incense after a ceremony,
Memories of our expedition hung in the air. Until one day:

'Look,' she said - and held up to the light a tiny object.
'I found it this morning when I was planting green peas!'
It was a perfect replica of the sacred algorithm,
Pulsing with milky light, slightly naive, entirely blessed.
'Shall we plant it?'

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