In the space of a breath



In the space of a breath,
Waves have subtly eroded land,
Sea walls,
Softened pebbles,
Infinitesimally shaped
Redefined fossils,
Indentations, crevices,
Washed over rocks
And seaweed.

In the space of a breath,
Dew has indiscernibly formed,
Birds have flown,
Water has turned to ice,
Cords have been cut – mother to child.

In the space of a breath,
An otter plays
And rolls and falls and hides,
In the bulrushes and the reeds,
And in another world, another place,
A tidal wave thrashes
And subsumes
Villages, towns, seaside resorts,
Leaving thousands
Without everything they own,
Everything they have built,
Everything they have ever dreamed of.

In the space of a breath,
A marriage vow is spoken,
A kingfisher takes flight
At a waterfall’s edge,
A car hits a car hits a car hits a car,
A life support machine provides,
Sustains, renews,
All that we barely notice,
All that we most take for granted,
Breath after breath after breath.

In the space of a breath,
A war correspondent touches a button
And conveys
A vast scene of obliteration
To the whole world;
Everything is dust,
This pile of rubble
Once a school,
A playground,
This pile of debris
A row of houses,
A place of prayer.
Nothing left but a smoke-filled emptiness.

In the space of a breath,
An apple falls
In an English orchard
With the merest of thuds,
A spider weaves its fragile line
Branch to branch,
While in a room
In a wing
Of a building
Made of cold stone
And heavy cement
A prisoner awakes
To yet another day.

In the space of a breath,
A surgeon tells the news,
And a whole family’s hearts
Shatter in unison.
A dragonfly alights
On a buttercup and pauses;
A blue whale
Graces the skies
And takes in the breath
Of a thousand lesser beings.
Planets converge, realign,
And the earth turns
Silently on its axis.

And we think we dominate the stage,
Are the centre of it all,

In the space of a breath…

How foolish we are
How foolish we are