The Banished Gods

By Derek Mahon

the-banished-godsNear the headwaters of the longest river

There is a forest clearing,

A dank, misty place

Where light stands in columns

And birds sing with a noise like paper tearing.


Far from land, far from the trade routs,

In an unbroken dreamtime

Of penguin and whale,

The seas sigh to themselves

Reliving the days before the days of sail.


Where wires end the moor seethes in silence,

Scattered with scree, primroses,

Feathers and faeces.

It shelters the hawk and hears

In dreams the forlorn cries of lost species.


It is here that the banished gods are in hiding,

Here they sit out the centuries

In stone, water

And the hearts of trees,

Lost in a reverie of their own natures —


Of zero-growth economics and seasonal change

In a world without cars, computers

Or chemical skies,

Where thought is a fondling of stones

And wisdom a five-minute silence at moonrise.

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