From a forthcoming book around the symbolism of fire© 2010 Phillip McNamara. All rights reserved.
“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what will I, if it is already kindled?
… Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth?” Luke 12. 49-51.
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, - My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Mat. 27. 46.
Pain engraves this unknowing:
All events and forms congealed like iron,
Endarkened by smoke and a fireball vapour
Of surging wind.
Quite far away like a wheel of incurious leisure.
I saw it with my own eyes.
The trees appeared restless,
And I won’t deny I heard a sound,
But anywhere or anytime was not
Something kindled by my preparations.
Am I honoured or dishonoured
By saying I don’t grasp why?
A year from now things may turn
But for now intonations of pain divides
The tide of blackness which runs up
The sides and long arms of the hills.
And not even the prophets know why.
So I clank about while empty
Twisted tanks rust like lost convoys
Under skeletal branches.
Though none were deciduous
Or delicate before the heat
They have tinkled and crunched
Like crisp distractions. But
Not even the children want to
Dance or kick barefoot here,
Rather with concentrated fingers
They search for melted cathedral domes
Of what they had never known was gold.
Find riches more precious than money.
Pain rubs and divides compassion:
The blackened limbs of my fight
Are no longer ablaze with rage
Yet like rotting vegetation
It channels somewhere.
Shadowy hours of afternoon still stretch
Forever but so differently broken where
Memories rekindle an ember to remember
How dead ash sifts.
Like dry fish it washes the iron work
Of leaves still clogging the skirt of stream
Refashioned in its collapsed wandering
Along the bottom of our block.
Lifted by wind it seeds my eyes
And I wonder whether each tissue
Of nature is regenerative or piling
To re-combust. I don’t know why
But it blots out the sun and reminds me
That a terrible beauty is born by fire;
One that like Easter is suffering stripped
Of the mask and another which chokes
And murmurs needless intensity.
Yet this morning I glimpsed not scar
But colour. What withered food could
Forget scorched despair and surrendering
To new air rise? I do not know its genus
But it was there. Destruction and perdition
Have pierced this soil into innumerable forms
And yet enduring through out, like a hole
Of a wheel, there turned a flower.
Forget the doubters I saw it with my own eyes.
About the author: Phillip McNamara is an artist and writer based in Western Australia. His art is represented in the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University collection, as well as in private collections both in Australia and internationally. He practices Zen with the Zen Group of Western Australia (associated with the Diamond Sangha).
His publications include: