On the quest for revelation, the concept of a universal consciousness keeps suggesting itself. Diarmuid O’Murchu talks about how “energy is never wasted; it is always in a process of transformation” in his book In the Beginning Was the Spirit. “When the energy that constitutes my alive self leaves my body in death (or shortly before), it reunites with the great energy fields of creation from which it originated in the first place.” And later in the book he talks about “the Spirit that blows where it wills is the surprising catalyst, forever breaking open novelty and extravagance – and not merely in the foreseeable future, but far beyond our conventional notion of space-time, as cosmologists press forward into new visionary horizons of an open universe without beginning or end.”
This isn’t just something I’ve read about. The wind has always felt more like a source of life (energy) than a force of nature for me; or maybe those are both the same thing. If a consciousness exists outside our physical bodies, couldn’t it take the form of an invisible yet omnipresent force, with the power to both produce energy and destroy everything in its path?
Carol Burnett says that rain has always calmed her down and feel that things would be all right; for me it has always been the wind. I wrote this poem when I was about 17. Making allowances for the limited exposure I’d had to life at that point, and the obvious influence of Margaret Atwood (The Swimmer’s Moment was on our curriculum that year and apparently made quite an impression on me), it’s not bad.
It starts, perhaps, as a force ingrained in itself
and therefore incapable of control
except by its own strength.
perhaps springing from the one unknown force
and, travelling carefully thought-out paths
following an inevitable plan,
it weaves in and through time and space.
A blanket which must be continually woven,
fragile as it is and torn by invisible thorns.
Somewhere on mint-fresh, fertile riverbanks
it stirs the rushes, revealing to few
a tiny bundle.
Then, its purpose fulfilled, slips away unnoticed
and, giving full reign to its power
runs fingers through liquid gold,
snaps the endless chain, flinging
the broken links
halfway around the world
to tie with another, different chain,
a well-worn fragment of a rough, shining string
on a beach where, maybe,
fifty, or a hundred, or a thousand years later
another bundle may land.
It pushes itself over the hurdles of
and throws itself unheedingly at the foot of mountains,
whistles its way up through valleys and cracks
as if hoping, by unceasing effort
to mold the peaks in its curves
and so to prove its power.
Then, lonely, and tired of solitary games
it seeks out companions
in an old man rambling through a park –
(it is gentle with him for it alone remembers what the man does) –
in a little boy riding his first two-wheeler downhill,
water streaming from his eyes,
his mouth wide open
welcoming the fragrant air.
It plays with women who have traded play for work,
catching the edges of their sensible skirts
and teasing rusty smiles from their faces.
overpowered by rushes of hot exhaust
spuming from pipes
as people run away from home
only to return home;
by red, glaring, swirling lights
and high-pitched screams cutting
the thickening air;
fuelled by the eternal force,
it whimpers, but it never dies.