Advent II: ‘The Waiting’, by RS Thomas

Are there angels or only
the Furies? We sleep
on a stone pillow
and the troubles of Europe
are the molecules that
compound it. Where is
the ladder or that heavenly
traffic that electrified Jacob?

We wrestle with somebody,
something which withholds its name.
How is the anonymous
disposed? The enemy is without
number; is there an infiltration
of its forces by one not
indifferent to the human?
Though genes have their war,

yet the smiling goes on
from cradle to cradle.
Our experiments are repeatable,
but what is love the precipitate
of? We have eaten of a tree
whose foliage is radioactive
and the autumn of
its fall-out is upon our children.

Why, then, of all possible
turnings do we take
this one rather than that,
when the only signs discernible
are what no one has erected?
Is it because, at the road’s
ending, the one who is as a power
in hiding is waiting to be christened?

– RS Thomas, Collected Later Poems (Highgreen: Bloodaxe, 2004), 268.

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