The Midal Charm etc.


The Midal Charm

In a white canoe
The river takes her home
Tired and alone

With her chin on her knees
She dreams about someone,
Looks quietly around.

A kuk hymn utters
From the mouths of birds,
The sun shines through the trees,

And somewhere someone
Is rising in song:

“Pick the tree-leaf
And slip it in your hair,
Wear me round your neck,
Then I’ll come
To pull you along.”

And in the trees
She sees the painted leaf
In spider’s web,

And with the edge of a smile

“The rooster’s tail feather
Is spinning in the scented wind;
Let the river take me on.”



Come, for it is a beautiful night,
The hurricane lamps are hung above the altar
And the table laid with food for each
Who move among us with a heart of prayer;
Let us forget the hard of heart who endure
To strut in the mud of their ancestor’s feet,
They are led out of heaven’s light, where
Struggle cannot end but for tender grace,
Where flowers die without certain heat;
Let us forget the butterfly kiss and seductive face,
For what opens the temptation of the noontime devil
Is faith no more, but the old body clinging
To its own fond meat in the ration of mistrust;
Pull down the spirit house palm by leaf,
Carve nothing but your own belief,
And if you must, lay in secret with your wife,
But come, for it is a beautiful night.
The Wake’s End
By the wake’s end, with the end-song’s drift,

With the dry smoke worn, and the
Palm fronds withered in the burnt rafters,
We sat in silence, and waited in though
We had not slept, being baffled by sleep,
By that part of us that would disappear
In some red darkness, not to awaken once more
In the vouchsafed mystery of returning,
Led down into our own vicious heaven,
Closed by a cold ferment. And quietly,
As clean air above the fire, the night washed in
A daybreak ferry of clouds, with sails composed
And bringing home the morning.

And soon, mismatched lovers, sun and moon,
Moved away in a train of disconnected gestures,
Uncoupled, with one left shining among the nettles,
Spreading coral between the long shadows,
Where small cats rubbed the tips of sunrise dew,
Stalking insects, with stars lessened above them,
And the whole sky opening like a peeled orange,
Reeling in Kingfishers from indistinct corners,
And us among them gaping at our muddied feet,
As if a stranger, ashamed of staying too long,
Had shared an intimate secret and withdrew,
Talking with him that which we had hidden
From each other, leaving us nameless
And naked and without a comforting fear.
Till we stood beneath the building cloud
With swift tangibles, the firm centers of life,
All smashed like stale orchids underfoot,
And these, our drums and shrivelled hearts,
Discharged themselves in a single disbelief
Of light, slanting on the makeshift,
Momentary, movement of their own beat,
And moved through the underbrush with relief,
Where bullfrogs sang up from the leaf partings,
With each interlude underlined with the voice
Of rain, reflecting light without being light,
Pattering leaves without becoming sound,
Running down to applaud our feet
As we walked out, making signals in the air
For the passing of a ghost.


The Old Man Said

The old man said:
It is no myth, but remains as said,
That the place is known where the people began,
Being known they came into being of their own accord,
From the root which grew the bole which grew
The branch to the point where I am now,
Sitting, waiting for a voice, growing my beard
Like a man who knows little else, whether storm
Or calm, dying or health, whether noise
Or silence in the movement of breath.

A crow flies heavy with thunder,
And thunderclouds weigh the tree with rain;
The young tease being new and footlight
In the change, experiencing that place now,
Without root or bole or branch-grown leaf;
Caught between two stores of food, they allow
Themselves all but themselves in the choice,
They have tasted an altered world, and tasting
Do nothing but eat their own voice.

And what is left is left mute, unwhole,
A spider’s web beneath a silent canopy,
Broken by hand, abandoned as a thread,
Without beginning or end or bond
To the leaf of the branch of the root made bole.



Projected Letters is a literary magazine dedicated to publishing the best new and established writing from around the world.