The temple lies in ruins now
desecrated and deserted
The rituals long forgotten now,
This place once resonated with
the singing of ancestral songs,
now none seek divinity’s grace,
no congregation throngs.
Sanctified vessels are now pot
sherds and the columns—which
once enclosed this consecrated
space—lie toppled, drums mute
while non-believers efface
or debase engraved holy words.
Now only heaven or the gods
know what is real or shadow.
Here, where traditional hymns were
sung, what was hallowed earth is dust
and people speak in strange tongues.
Here haunted phrases of past prayers
dissolve in the midday glare
and the goddess has long gone;
of her presence there is no trace.
Even fading memories will soon be erased.
When Southerly Gales Blow
When southerly gales blow,
keening like banshees sharing their
woes, bending boughs to their will
with the noisy intensity of electric drills,
bringing down power lines, damaging
roofs with shrill shrieks of reproof,
this old house creaks and groans
and rocks on its foundation stones.
When grey clouds close in,
wrapping the building like a widow’s
shawl and the Fahrenheit falls and
sleet whips the land like pellets of
lead tipping a cat o’ nine tails;
despite being forced to sit tight,
sometimes without electric light,
there is something that excites and
thrills whenever Antarctic winds—
like ravenous dingos in search of sheep—
snarl around the neighbouring hills,
and the wails of the wind blow away
complacency or despair and,
leaving onlookers gasping for air,
life slips into overdrive,
reinforcing awareness that being alive
is more than just a heart-beat.