Anthony Head

The Quiet Dark

So many years I have woken in the quiet dark
to find myself thinking of God, or God eventually.
Usually time gone and my lost at first – mother, father,
another friend – followed by the unknown innocent
in a recent commonplace tragedy. Then I contemplate
the uncountable dead of field and trench, seabed, scaffold,
backstreet, oven, ward, until the manifold guises of grief
dissolve and in the quiet dark I mourn for the living
as well as the dead, for the unloved, the forsaken, for all
creatures lonely in the vast desolation of bereavement.
I try
to still my fervid mind of visions of violence – a flogging,
a stoning, a rape – but cannot silence the yelling
of the bearded hordes of ages, the deluded and
the stupid. Grief, loneliness, violence lead me to God
and the mystery of the silence of God, abiding through
scream and slaughter. My heart quickens with the pity
of the impotent, pity for the pained of sacrum, knuckle,
and I lie longing for the hands of the healer. In the quiet
each morning I grope for the morsel of divinity within me,
the redeeming refuge of love, and till death’s truant brother
re-envelopes me I mourn, knowing that to mourn is
to love, and with God or without, love is everything.

ANTHONY HEAD lives and works in Tokyo. His articles have been published in numerous journals, including The Edinburgh Review, The London Magazine and the TLS. His poetry has previously appeared in Outposts, Westwords, Orbis, South, The Frogmore Papers and other journals. He is the editor of three volumes of the letters and diaries of John Cowper Powys, and three collections of essays by Llewelyn Powys.