wordsout by Godfrey Rust                                     BREAKING THE CHAINS  49 of 61  HOME 



The word's out

Sometimes
I listen for your word
and hear nothing. 

In the quiet of my room
the only noise
is the thump of my heart
and voices arguing inside my head. 

It's not that I don't give you a chance. 
Sometimes I say nothing
for as long as five minutes.
Your silence is still deafening. 

Then I open a book
and out tumbles your voice. 
And when I try to shut that up I find
you can get a word in anywhere. 

I've even heard you sometimes from the pulpit. 

I hear you on the Nine O'Clock News
saying What have you done
with the world I gave you?

I hear you in the tabloids
saying Whoever is without sin
cast the first stone.
 

With the first burst of spring flowers
you say Look—no hands!

With the most extraordinary sunset
you say Look, just relax. 

The shrunken face of hunger
is you saying Feed me. 

The beggar on the underground
is you saying House me. 

The dreaded diagnosis
is you saying Heal me. 

The valium prescription
is you saying Free me. 

The redundancy notice
is you saying Value me. 

The scream of the torture victim
is you saying Father, forgive. 

The priest staring down the barrel of a gun
is you saying Love casts out fear. 

When I am late and hurrying
you are the face on the clock
saying I am the beginning and the end. 

When I am greedy
you are the face on the banknote
saying Treasure is in heaven. 

When I am proud
you drop your banana-skins in front of me
saying Don't look down. 

When I am lonely
you are the stillness of the house
saying I am with you, always. 

And when I am grieving
you are the voice at the graveside
saying I am the Resurrection and the Life. 

Sometimes
I listen for your word
and hear nothing. 

And sometimes
I hear nothing else.


Meditation for a "listening" service at St John's, West Ealing during Lent in March 1992. The title was added later when used in a show of the same name with John and Carina Persson and Mike Giddins at the Watermans Theatre, Brentford. Some minor modifications made to the opening and closing sections in 2014.