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Sometimes A Wild God

I have come across this amazing poem by Tom Hirons a few times over the last couple years and every time I read through the stanzas I feel that I am hanging on the edges of something so raw and true and so deeply forgotten that it makes me want to weep and then celebrate. It is a call to remember life. Not the manicured and cultivated life that we cling to in order to secure our safety but the unrefined and vital life that is awe inspiring and both creative and destructive. A life force that won't be tamed for anything. I don't know if we invite this force into our lives- I think few are that courageous. What I will say is that when I read this poem it leaves me longing for something I didn't even know was gone.

Should this Wild God visit my home may he bash my door down- I will no doubt be hiding under the kitchen table.

Sometimes a Wild God

Sometimes a wild God comes to the table

He is awkward and does not know the ways

Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.

His voice makes vinegar from wine.

When the wild god arrives at the door, You will probably fear him. He reminds you of something dark That you might have dreamt, Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.

He will not ring the doorbell; Instead he scrapes with his fingers Leaving blood on the paintwork, Though primroses grow In circles round his feet.

You do not want to let him in. You are very busy. It is late, or early, and besides… You cannot look at him straight Because he makes you want to cry.

Your dog barks; The wild god smiles. He holds out his hand and The dog licks his wounds, Then leads him inside.

The wild god stands in your kitchen. Ivy is taking over your sideboard; Mistletoe has moved into the lampshades And wrens have begun to sing An old song in the mouth of your kettle.

‘I haven’t much,’ you say And give him the worst of your food. He sits at the table, bleeding. He coughs up foxes. There are otters in his eyes.

When your wife calls down, You close the door and Tell her it’s fine. You will not let her see The strange guest at your table.

The wild god asks for whiskey And you pour a glass for him, Then a glass for yourself. Three snakes are beginning to nest In your voicebox. You cough.

Oh, limitless space. Oh, eternal mystery. Oh, endless cycles of death and birth. Oh, miracle of life. Oh, the wondrous dance of it all.

You cough again, Expectorate the snakes and Water down the whiskey, Wondering how you got so old And where your passion went.

The wild god reaches into a bag Made of moles and nightingale-skin. He pulls out a two-reeded pipe, Raises an eyebrow And all the birds begin to sing.

The fox leaps into your eyes. Otters rush from the darkness. The snakes pour through your body. Your dog howls and upstairs Your wife both exults and weeps at once.

The wild god dances with your dog. You dance with the sparrows. A white stag pulls up a stool And bellows hymns to enchantments. A pelican leaps from chair to chair.

In the distance, warriors pour from their tombs. Ancient gold grows like grass in the fields. Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs. The hills echo and the grey stones ring With laughter and madness and pain.

In the middle of the dance, The house takes off from the ground. Clouds climb through the windows; Lightning pounds its fists on the table And the moon leans in.

The wild god points to your side. You are bleeding heavily. You have been bleeding for a long time, Possibly since you were born. There is a bear in the wound.

‘Why did you leave me to die?’ Asks the wild god and you say: ‘I was busy surviving. The shops were all closed; I didn’t know how. I’m sorry.’

Listen to them:

The fox in your neck and The snakes in your arms and The wren and the sparrow and the deer… The great un-nameable beasts In your liver and your kidneys and your heart…

There is a symphony of howling. A cacophony of dissent. The wild god nods his head and You wake on the floor holding a knife, A bottle and a handful of black fur.

Your dog is asleep on the table. Your wife is stirring, far above. Your cheeks are wet with tears; Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting. A black bear is sitting by the fire.

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table. He is awkward and does not know the ways Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver. His voice makes vinegar from wine And brings the dead to life.

By Tom Hirons

Beautifully illistrated copies of this poem can be purchased at the link below- illustration by Rima Staines


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