Folk Tale by R. S. Thomas

Prayers like gravel

flung at the sky’s

window, hoping to attract

the loved one’s

attention. But without

visible plaits to let

down for the believer

to climb up,

to what purpose open

that far casement?

I would

have refrained long since

but that peering once

through my locked fingers

I thought that I detected

the movement of a curtain.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Experimenting with an Amen (1986).

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Sarn Rhiw by R. S. Thomas

So we know

she must have said something

to him – What language,

life? Oh, what language?

 

Thousands of years later

I inhabit a house

whose stone is the language

of its builders. Here

 

by the sea they said little.

But their message to the future

was: Build well. In the fire

of an evening I catch faces

 

staring at me. In April,

when light quickens and clouds

thin, boneless presences

flit through my room.

 

Will they inherit me

one day? What certainties

have I to hand on

like the punctuality

 

with which, at the moon’s

rising, the bay breaks

into a smile as though meaning

were not the difficulty at all?

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Experimenting with an Amen (1986)

Calling by R. S. Thomas

The telephone is the fruit

of the tree of the knowledge

of good and evil. We may call

everyone up on it but God.

 

To do that is to declare

that he is far off. Dialling

zero is nothing other

than the negation of his presence.

 

So many times I have raised

the receiver, listening to

that smooth sound that is technology’s

purring; and the temptation

 

has come to experiment

with the code which would put

me through to the divine

snarl at the perimeter of such tameness.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Experimenting with an Amen (1986)