Standing Still

petra, jordan

Here, I learn that even stone
Has its language…
Standing here, where
Rarefied mountain air slices bone
And evaporates the need for words
Except the toughest, most spare.

I discover how quiet eloquence can be
Hearing stone tease and immortalise
Civilisation’s first, girlish blush…
Hewn pink, red, brown compel humility
As I pass treasury and tomb and
Know my own silence, watchfully preserved
Is born of something more than fatigue
Or breathless strain.

Standing here, I brush shards of knowing
That space is sometimes just the lack
Of sound; and why these spaces,
This stony syntax, is what God chose
For chronicle, canon and commandment.
Why, to places like this, we bring
Our most quiet prayers and wordless pleas.

As if in otherworldly silence
There is some whisper of what we seek
When, freed of the world’s static
God’s word grows loud
And the silences–His, mine–speak.

by Aaron Maniam
from Morning at Memory's Border (2005)


SELECTED POEMS: "White Poems" >