A Reading from the Book of Exile

chapter one

there are no chapters


chapter two

he has been moved beyond belief


chapter three

and he is inching toward glory
with only his own story on his back
he has patched up holes that opened
where his coverings have cracked
and some shoes were never meant for hiking so
he left them far behind
there are simple things he needs
on journeys such as these
and a bag that’s small enough
to carry all the failures and the idols
that he’s picked up on the way

there are some days
he only moves
an inch or two

this is the pace of glory here in exile


chapter four

there are some things too meaningful for talking
and even feeling leaves us full of grief
at all we touch and need and
can never speak of

we are living lives that we can‘t state the name of
we are loving things that
we can never bear
we attempt belief in things that we can not explain
and we rest uneasy in this

and we rest with tension so
its heartaching


chapter five

he has grown older here.

the body speaks its own
he has started listening


the unwritable chapter

and the place of
is the place of
(and sometimes barely that)


chapter six

there is no ending.
everything is here.
            (so pitch a tent that you can live in
            and find a friend to whom you’ll give
            times of telling
            times of testing
            times of listening
            times of resting)
there is no ending.
everything is here.


“A reading from the Book of Exile” Originally published in Readings from the Book of Exile (Canterbury Press, 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Reprinted with the permission of the poet.