Monday, March 28, 2011

Tuesday Poem: 9 O'Clock Call to Prayer, by Marissa Johnpillai

Nine o'clock call to prayer

The bell of the cathedral rings & I give thanks
for the generations of historical building societies:
the worshippers
of hewn stone & gables;

it rings and I give thanks for mortar grooves,
for the fashion of gargoyle motifs
I look up;
the bell rings;

I give thanks for steeples,
for hotel doors that open automatically,
for balconies on apartments;
it rings & I give thanks

for restaurants
hiding like mice in alleyways,
for second-hand stores,
for souvenirs, for the neon

of English, Japanese & Korean the bell rings;
I give thanks for window displays, for takeaways, for travelling
coffee mugs, for the pep of people in well-pressed suits receding
joyfully into offices; the bell rings.

I must give thanks for the hands
& knees of workers now dead, those who have knelt
to plant brick upon brick, for their dusty dungarees
the bell rings, and God!

I give thanks for the inventor of dungarees,
the makers of dungarees, the fabric millers, metal forgers
turning out buttons & buckles for dungarees, the patient fingers
of all those who have taught children how to do up the clasps.

The bell rings. I give thanks for this tiny piece of world
in which there is the possibility of rolling
from a sidewalk
into a stream.

I loll on a grass verge. The bell rings.
I give thanks for the tolling, for the falling of heavy sound
like a dome over these city blocks, for the hourly exposure
of its sacred acoustics.

Marissa Johnpillai finds herself in Otautahi, turning over thoughts with a garden fork. She has studied and taught at the Christchurch School for Young Writers, and in 2007 received an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington. With the help of a Creative Communities grant through the Christchurch City Council she published a chapbook of poems Hymns for Her in 2009.

Marissa is both a talented poet and an excellent performer of her work. Her reading of the above poem can be found on her website A Problem like Marissa.

It has been on my mind in the past week. I offer it here, with her permission, both as a reminder of what we still have to be thankful for, and in the hopes that the cathedral bells will be heard ringing again before too long.

Links to further Tuesday poems can be found in the sidebar at the main hub site.


Helen Lowe said...

A great "Marissa" poem---and very apposite. Thanks for bringing it to the Tuesday Poem world, Catherine.

adriaan said...

Thank you. I was directed to your site , searching for why I hear the most beautiful church bell every evening at 9 o'clock. Thank you again, Adriaan Finnerman