Canticle of the Sun
for the feast of St. Francis, 4 October
by Fran Lock
And what if we should feel like singing? Lift
our undefended faces to the light, and catch
a discredited tongue, gold and fleet in upper air.
Hey, you up there! To you a reeling blessing;
love’s honeyed physic, faith and laud. You’re
not a name as such: two stones struck to speech
in fire, white bird wheeling in a dance against
gravity; trampled cranesbill pushing back
in public parks.
We see you. Brother Sun, who wakes the city
window boxes all unkempt. Small green spaces,
roused and then beguiled by turns, the hedges
fitfully splendored, and dogs! in the gilded
tousle of their morning run, are bright with you.
We see you. Sister Moon, the night-streets,
formidable with phantoms, suddenly silvered.
The moody precariat stilled, turning to each other
like careful strangers, spellbound, spilling softened
We see you. Brother storm, in cattails, contrails,
any thin thing whipped to life. Resuscitate with
weightlessness our wastrel spaces, fly-tipped margins.
A carrier bag caught in grasping branches ciphers
an eloquent ghost.
Hey, you up there, I feel you move against
the awful formal violence of the world
and its experiments. I feel you move against
its agonies of evidence, convictions, symptoms,
lairy fates. I cup the ruthless cold: water from
the bathroom tap, and know we’re not abandoned;
I watch the cooker flexing its fire,
a petiole swell to incandescence,
and I know we are not abandoned.
Hey, you up there! When that soft-boiled grotesque
in a salesman’s tie tells us anything lucrative is holy,
I feel you move. Not some tremulous silken ethic, but
sturdy and avenging.
Hey, for the root, the bulb, the branch.
For anything we turn or tend, or tread
to raging thirst. Today we feel like singing:
a hymn, the Internationale, a tuneless
spirited croaking as I scrub black mould
from the walls.
Hey, for the wakefulness that keeps us
extending a hand, filling a thermos, arming
ourselves against the dark dividing.
Singing. Our dead are turning two pages
at once, racing away. And yet, today they
are with us. Suffering, rejoicing, they flower
Hey, you up there! It’s not the comfort we take,
but the comfort we bestow. This song you have
taught us. Now we step outside to make it grow.
Fran Lock is a poet, illustrator, and political activist. She has written several collections of poetry, the most recent being 'Muses and Bruises', published by Culture Matters.