Poem: Rare Bird, a glosa for RS Thomas

Poem by Philip Gross

'Watching you is like watching the sea.'

Grey waters, vast
          as an area of prayer
that one enters. Daily
          over a period of years
I have let the eye rest on them.
Was I waiting for something?
but that continuous waving
          that is without meaning
          Ah, but a rare bird is
rare. It is when one is not looking,
at times one is not there
                        that it comes.

(from ‘Sea-watching’, RS Thomas)

Watching you is like watching the sea,
the waves, your words, washing over the same
edge of things, land’s end, and of all we can say
just to say it again. Rise, fall… We are the sum
that will not come out right. Catch the sigh
of waves recoiling, threads of foam that pour
back through themselves, unpicking the seam
of meaning, cracks in the conspiracy
of silence, rips in the mist through which appear
grey waters, vast as an area of prayer

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