Kieran Beville is a former teacher of English and History. He is author of Write Now – A Guide to Becoming a Writer (Limerick Writers’ Centre, 2019) and the novel, Bohemian Fire (pen-name Austen K. Blake, Bohemian Books, 2017). He has had articles published in the Limerick Leader and Ireland’s Own as well as poetry in Cyphers. Kieran has managed youth-work and educational programmes for the disadvantaged and worked in Community Development. He lives in Limerick city, his native place and plays guitar and paints, using various mediums – oils, acrylics.
The Master Gardener
Within the walled garden on a sunny spring day
I sat beneath a bountiful beech
With its vernal canopy and silver-bellied parasol
And watched the master gardener splice two sapling cherry trees.
He bound the wounded hearts, scion and root-stock, with bandage and tight knot.
Skilful as a surgeon at work,
He made a bed for the newly-weds
And planted them among the forget-me-not.
On his knees as if in prayer he pressed them down with tender care.
And with two sticks he made a cross – and staked them there.
With rugged hands he fussed the familiar earth.
Then I heard him sing an ancient hymn in dulcet tones
As he pushed away a heavy stone.
When he stood back and gazed
They seemed to look at him in parched appeal
For first he gave them water before he slaked his thirst.
He doffed his hat and wiped his leathered brow.
That was forty years ago in May but I still see him now.
You touched my lips with burning coal
Your spirit breathed to fan the flame
Your fire consumed my very soul
You spoke and said my name.
I gathered manna like mushrooms on moist September mornings
My feet wet with dew.
You have written your law on my heart of stone.
My sojourn has come to an end –
The fugitive years and shepherd skies.
The courts of Egypt and Pharaoh’s lies.
The miracles and magic and the darkness that could be felt.
The summit of Sinai, holy ground and burning bush…
The grumbling in my ears.
The weariness of wandering in the wilderness years.
I dwelt in tents and entered the sacred tabernacle where you spoke.
In the marble palace I learned their language and read their books.
“A basket case” I heard them whisper and saw their devious looks.
The host of chariots snapping at my heels –
The parting of the sea…
But nothing has prepared my heart for the parting of you and me.
You have lavished me with love but I must languish here.
The staff has fallen from my hand.
My dusty feet have climbed this hill.
I see the Promised Land that I will never enter now
For I displeased you and I see it in the furrows of your brow.
My tears make drops of blood in the scorching sand.
My bones will mingle with the dust
Moab will be my place of rest
An unmarked sepulchre my curse
Beyond the borders of your love
The memory of being blessed –
Only let me hear once more the voice so small and still
And I will watch the sun go down from this foreign hill.
Your poem about Moses is the finest I’ve ever read about him. Manna like mushrooms! Heart of stone! The end rhymes! Brilliant, well-wrought. Thank you.
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