A note for Bernard of Clairvaux

Written by Jaslyn Thienbunlertrat

Wildfire turns golden light
to perpetual sunset: orange haze slanting
through the window, spilling
like iridescent oil on the floor.
Far away, the mountains steep
in noxious smoke.
If the stones cry out
against man’s heavy hand,
who will answer?
And the planet keeps turning
in this wild dance, the fire
feeding on the fields: labour pains
of a world hungry for living water.

The smoke hurts my eyes,
as does the meaninglessness
of my own little words.
Miles away, houses are emptied
as the trees catch fire
and fall
into dreamless sleep.
You, too, sleep in the earth,
the this-ness
and that-ness of your being
which was once flesh and blood
lie still in the earth, dressed
and spoken for in written word.

You felt the Spirit hovering near
over the waters of your soul,
centuries before a child’s laugh,
a kind gesture, a good story
(delicate strokes in the poem of my life)
drove a thorn of wild delight
into my heart, centuries before
sickness and smoke, the
sorrows of this waiting world,
sickened me to my inmost heart.
You, who knew the world’s
deep hunger, felt it:

The Spirit hovered near
and breathed life into still matter.
You who put pen to paper,
did the Spirit stir within you
as you gave shape in words?
Carrying this heaven-longing to term,
did you, wordsmith, wonder
at the mystery of the Word,
whose smithy is the world
and who was born
into His own story?

Miles away, the trees catch fire.
Prayers rise, the smoke of incense,
heaven-longing on our lips:
Lord, deliver us;
Lord, have mercy.
So echoed Bach in his manuscript,
asking, praying before each piece:
Jesu juva. Jesus, help.
In our destruction,
in our creation: Jesus,
to whom the earth cries out,
be with us now; hear our prayer.
The Spirit hovers
over the waters of my soul:
Fire in water, water alight.

May it be so in me as it was in you,
writer and teacher and lover of God,
Spirit meeting spirit,
Word inspiring word:
to bend time and place
with thought and pen,
to be as water, as window, as wind
through which His oceanic radiance,
which quenches the deepest fire,
may blaze and pierce,
birthing forth magnificence.