Not in Truce
Above the black soil of the bulldozed paddock
spiders have spun their threads
on upraised sticks and roots.
In the midst of anarchy, a small affirmation
of design. The webs,
wet with dew and infused with light,
are white pennants raised to proclaim
the mysterious endurance of the powerless.
Or they are bandages of fine gauze,
daubed where limbs have snapped, wrapped
to staunch the flow of beauty from the broken land.
And perhaps it’s only little things that will remain
to shore the heart against the broad and brutal ugliness
that looms as the destiny of man. Perhaps
small gestures—the weaving of poems
or the pursuit of a personal integrity
or an unfaltering faith that God is good and
good is no illusion—are all that is left to us.
Like the spiders, we bind the broken roots.
Not in truce, but on trust, we raise
our ragged, regal flags in the winds of a desolate age.
I turn to see my son behind me.
He pauses as I pause, a few paces
back in the swath in the weeds.
When did he leave the veranda?
When did he resolve the mower’s roar
would no longer make him scream?
As I move off he comes on, ginger
as a cat. He is stalking his fear.
Come on, then, little one. Be brave.
Two isn’t too young to rehearse.
Courage is hard, cowardice easy.
And fear … fear gets only worse.
These two poems are taken from two of Andrew’s books: Waking and Always (Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1987) – “Not in Truce”; Fontanelle (Five Islands Press, 2004) – “Mowing”.