For Sarah

If you want heaven, start in mud.
                                      Begin transfiguration
Where you’re stuck. Take your pilgrimage standing
Up to your ankles in sludge. And if the ground binds
                                                  and if your boots stick, and if you step
Out of them when you set off; if the odour
On a summer’s day, when the water ebbs, is noisome
                                                    where you begin, so much more pure



Your thoughts will be when they flower,
                                    so much sweeter the garden’s scent when
You breathe it in, so much more like birdsong
Your voice when you begin at last to speak. Start underwater
                                                  if you want the sky. Start in the abject
Underworld, if you want the lighted Earth; start among
The throng of ears that cannot hear. Sink in detritus, seed in
                                       the strife that your life, and every life,



Falls into now and then: Serenity
                                      springs from squalor; love is only love if it
Can bear the badlands out. These wastes—good for nothing more substantial—
Bloom light and outshine day. The lotus pond,
                                                   a repurposed wetland well south of its days,
Is a perfect picture, empty, of the imperfection of your soul,
Helplessly in love with the vulgate particulars
                                     of the secondhand world; in flower,



The pond is your Buddha self
                                      at her ease; the Christ of St Thomas come down
From the cross. Freedom starts, but refuses to stay, in squalor;
Literature takes its first steps in slur and slurry.
                                                   Put down roots where no one
Else can, in the compost of loss, in the suspect terrain
Of the only life you may ever get to grow in.
                                      Nothing is wrong for long

And hope cannot stay lost,
                       if beauty can walk from the wreck ,
And the lotus can raise heaven
                                      from the dreck and the dross.