we lit candles
in the ruined church
and wept –
where is the God
to save us from ourselves?

wax spills outwards,
accidental patterns
on empty air:
prayer fills the vacant space,
sending unexpected love

the emptiness
of deep pits and dark caves;
the silences –
let me not rush to fill them
with mindless broken words

from the caverns
of too reluctant hearts
water rises:
filling the flood plains where
we build fortresses of sand

candle flame dies,
the winter tides erode
unsettled sand –
holy water and dark earth
are strange bedfellows


[This is one of the tanka strings from my new book, written in conjunction with Joy McCall and called Stillness Lies Deep. In this particular pentaptych, Joy’s words are in italics. The book is available from Mousehold Press.]