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Lay for the Day
24th June

The feast-day of the birth of St John the Baptist is also the pagan festival of midsummer.


The honeybees have built in the hollow
of a locust tree. All the queen’s daughters
dance. I hear the voice of many waters.

He who follows me is him I follow
into the wilderness. The veils drop one
by one, until blood brims the silver dish.

I dip and dip until at last the Fish
comes up in my hands from the Jordan. “John,”
my dumbstruck father wrote, and found his voice.

I breast the stream that Moses never crossed,
greater than all before and less than all
who come, who go out crying like one lost,
one last man, to afflict you with your choice.

I seize and plunge God’s head, but mine shall fall.

John Gibbens
from Pisces


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar


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