In a Strange (and Wondrous) Place... A Poem



I came to a place, a strange and wondrous place,

filled with any kind of creature, plant and scene;

a place of growth and bloom, yet based on fiercely strict

necessity. A frightening place. I had somehow

to live. I had to eat to stay alive; to kill,

to seek those foods that would sustain, not poison me.

Threat was everywhere. But, all things were made of light,

radiant; the sky, green and lustrous trees and grasses.

The power of the light burned brightly far above,

so fiery I dared not look at it. Sometimes it

nearly killed me with its parching heat; other times,

it gladdened with welcomed, gentle warmth that took

away the chill, made my life magnificent.

Water flowed at my feet that might quench my thirst or sweep

me away. It fell from on high, drenching the land.

I sought shelter under large leaves, overhanging rocks,

in caves; commenced, in time, to build structures of shrubs,

trees and stones in lightning and high wind. Then the light

went away, and utter darkness came. I could not

understand this fall from radiance to blackness,

broken only by myriad points of bristling light,

a shining white disk that came and went, crescent-changed.

Fatigue made me sleep, despite my fears, when darkness fell;

when light returned, I fought again to stay alive.

Then savage tigers prowled that killed my friends. How could

such fearsome things come to pass in such a place as this?

Even our children died, were killed. Who was safe?

Neither young nor old. How could we come to know

this place, that was in many ways a paradise,

but in so many others, a travail we could

neither understand nor survive? We seemed destined

to be forsaken, taken by the desperate ways

of this strange, implacable place. We could not protect

ourselves. We did what we could, of course, to build homes,

find food, make weapons...and the light ever turned

to darkness, as darkness ever turned to light,

leaving us alone in beauty, yes, but danger

and desolation. We wondered. What, if anything,

had made this complex place, made us, set us in such

mixed condition of wonder, fear, bewilderment?

How could we resolve our lives, our destinies?

For what purpose were we placed here? Then we realized

-- needed to believe – that we were part of a grand

creation, no issue out of place. Despite chaos,

there was a great order -- if a violent one –

we hoped was cognizant of us, had created

our lives and the great rhythm -- was the great rhythm –

that moved from light to darkness, from warm to cool, wet

to dry, forest to desert, east to west, earth to sky.

We knew a great mystery, great maker of mysteries

who partook of all things, brooks and trees, rocks, leaves, grass;

was in all things; was all things. Surely, this was the meaning

we sensed and saw, required, hoped was there, everywhere.

The meaning we needed for our lives, some semblance

of purpose, peace. This meaning was in us, was us,

beyond us, might protect, look after us, forever,

despite the taking of our lives, our children's lives;

the sufferings and joys that were ours to endure,

weep in wounded wonder. We asked the great rhythm

to care for us, care about us. This weaver of rhythms

might be unknowable, predictable only

in the certainty of light and darkness, beauty,

suffering, death -- the uncertainty of his response

to our needs – but, he was still the one who made us,

made this place; the only one we knew, the only one

we had. Better to have belief in such a maker

of such a place, than left alone with none at all.


Copyright by Don Gray


Don Gray Art  •  Poems