Three poems from Martin Burke concerning Bruges

Blekerijstraat 12
Ithaca, Aran, Jerusalem, Brugge-
Which of these is my home?


I’m citizen and exile

Homing and lost, found and lost again


It is the light which confuses me

That and the dance


The way those dancers danced in a field

That morning in Crete


And they are dancing yet

In my mind surveying the fabulous cities


In Ithaca and Jerusalem

And wherever is home


This is home

Here in this place

Here where all the cities come to me




Because some clouds hung low over three towers

And sunlight clarified the water to a language of glimmer and glitter

The city was in dialogue with itself


Birds made their intricate patterns in preparation for migration

(that other life the life of words gesture towards and live out)

and then there was that stillness of meanings and possibilities


I walked amid a multitude and found joy in this

I walked alone and there was joy in this also

Became eventually one of the night-shadows listening to

The night-songs of the world


And the clarity of moonlight edging towards the towers

(which can be named but not described

A language of parallel worlds and their dialogue


And the notion that I should surrender to it all

And acknowledge what it alluded to


Which could have been this specific place

Or any other place which bore the same intensity

For which I sought suitable quotations


An accuracy of language in a given time and place

Which would give credence to the fact that

“Out of all this beauty something must come”

And bear its imprimatur upon what thereafter followed


When what thereafter followed was what had been prophesied

Or was at least latent within the song-lines of the world


 Minnewater Park, Brugge


That water, in its stillness, spoke of brevity

Images of clouds and trees lay unmoving there

Four swans nested on the far bank


To penetrate such stillness, to break through

Such covering, and my caution, was what was

Required of me but I remained motionless


Attempting to match my stillness to its

Hoping that by such means I might merge into

The perfect point of silence which was, and actively,


Its motion and identity and delight

That I succeeded or failed is easily known

Though that was not the issue when I stood on that bridge


As if I’d come upon a revelation which was lucid and there for the taking

Which I took and became

One of the faithful ones now counting out the coins of loss and gain


Martin Burke