Sunday, September 17, 2006

All that lies outside ourselves

A couple of weeks ago I watched an episode from a new PBS series called Africa. Sahara was a look into the lives of a nomadic people who live on the edge of the great continental desert. This two-hour cultural profile followed the initiation of a young 11-year old boy during his first caravan crossing of the sub-Saharan sands. They walked a total of some 1,800 miles over three months. He will most likely make this crossing some fifty to sixty times during his lifetime. This poem came from something his mother said as she waited at home, praying nightly for the safe return of both her son and husband.

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Closer At Night

God is closer at night. His fish swim
in the desert. His sun transits the other
side of all we cannot see. His stars bring
comfort in dark measures as His fire
flints the brittle moon. We can feel Him
by the rustle of His robes in the wind.
His hem becomes our tent and His sky,
our bright blue cowl. His sand sings to
us. It tells us of the mountain it once was,
the time it took to become that which
caresses the tenders of our traveled feet.

Before us, His Sahara extends and persists in
all ways. God is closer at night. In Bilma, we
gather His camels to rest and water beneath
weatherworn cliffs, barter dates and coned
salt, all that lies outside ourselves. There are
stones that mark His mosque in a ring of standing
sentinels that bid us enter. We rub the rock into
our faces, grate shard against slab to make the fine
dust that anoints our passage with His safe traverse.

We will walk His earth by caravan. Sweat and
goat cheese until the days deliver His spring
from the bled heart of His desert. God is closer
at night. Sweet tea and cured meat through the
duned miles until His palms show us the green
tufts of our home. His children come to greet
us as we throw dates and candy at their feet.
Rest will be waiting, rest and the company of
wives. His dusk will find them sheer and willing.
God is closer at night. His fish swim in the desert.

Joseph Gallo
September 6, 2006

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Anonymous Anonymous parried...

I have only just gotten a moment to come in here for a nice read.

Beautiful poem, Joseph. God (or whatever ultimate goodness you believe) is always closer when we take the time and choose to see it in our hearts.

September 22, 2006 3:43 PM  
Blogger joseph parried...

I'm glad you liked it, Joni. It took me twenty times to get that rock cracked just right. ;-)

Actually, I shot it at the haunting Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde. It fits just right. Thanks for visiting and come back often.

September 22, 2006 7:41 PM  
Anonymous owld_skipper parried...

i was surprisingly moved by this
there is no need to say anything else

October 04, 2006 3:52 AM  
Anonymous NoEnz parried...

God is closer at night,

the sun, the devil, the enemy of life which must burrow beneath the sand to survive

the night, the initimation of space, of a place where I am at home, wherever the universe might take me..

October 04, 2006 1:42 PM  

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