What happened? Who knows? No one can read a mind
scroll back the thoughts like seismograph traces, see
just where the quake struck. We are left here
sifting the wreckage for scraps, for reasons
—some prop that gave way, broke under sudden shock,
brought down the whole house. Then we could make ourselves
safe, make our own house safe: the next quake
won’t pull us down, we’ll be ready for it.
It’s that we’re human. That’s what we do. We make
home, shelter; fire, hearth. Structures to keep us safe.
Crops, pasture, fields hacked out of dark woods;
calendars, numbers against the vast sky
that drifts above us. Patterns of when and why:
verse; music; carved stones. Pictures and glossaries.
Faith, hope and love. Just law and mercy.
Everything keeping us sure of our selves,
each other’s selves. So much we can only take
on trust, and walk as if we believe there’s ground
to bear our weight. We have a place here,
that’s what we say in the frightened, quiet time
we try so hard not ever to give ourselves.
We have a home; if not a place, a tribe.
Kith, kin. Or one heart somewhere for us.
Structures we build on a spinning planet
we need to tell each other we trust in still.
If one looks down, looks over the edge, we might
all fall. We need these explanations
—not why a house tumbled down, but why ours
still stands. That hashtag, something we need to hear:
depression lies, we tell ourselves. Something struck
this house or that; some monster drew this
person or that to their self-destruction.
Sounds like a glib line, telling you what you feel’s
false: silence once more slapped over what you know.
More, though, it’s our own mind we talk down,
begging it, almost, to give us good news
tell us we’re part of a world we think true,
can live in, can think we belong in.
We build the house still, tremulous as the ground is.
Stay, please, we say. Stay. Help us to keep it standing.
Judith Taylor comes from Perthshire and now lives and works in Aberdeen, Scotland. Her poetry has appeared widely in magazines and she is the author of two pamphlet collections — Earthlight, (Koo Press, 2006), and Local Colour (Calder Wood Press, 2010). Her first full-length collection will be published by Red Squirrel Press in 2017. Email: j.taylor.09[at]btinternet.com