Once again I am back again to the north west of England. Just due south of the Lake District is the great city of Manchester which is also known as one of the wettest places to live. To my shame, I do not have a collection of poems by the English poet Adrian Mitchell, 1932-2008. He was the foremost poet of the country’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament! In an interview he spoke of poetry in the following way Poetry isn’t really important, it’s necessary. There have been lots of tribes in the history of the world who’ve had no education, no schools, no television, no all sorts of things, but every tribe in the world has always had poetry. Sometimes it’s poetry that’s song and dance, sometimes it’s poetry that’s recited in a trance – it’s all sorts of poetry. But you can’t have a tribe without poetry. And if you have a country without poetry it’s an impoverished country. It’s like a country without music – unimaginable. He often displayed humor in his writing and the following poem causes many chuckles. I’m confident you have one or two good puddle experiences!
Watch Your Step – I’m Drenched
In Manchester there are a thousand puddles.
Bus-queue puddles poised on slanting paving stones,
Railway puddles slouching outside stations,
Cinema puddles in ambush at the exits,
Zebra-crossing puddles in dips of the dark stripes –
They lurk in the murk
Of the north-western evening
For the sake of their notorious joke,
Their only joke – to soak
The tights or trousers of the citizens.
Each splash and consequent curse is echoed by
One thousand dark Mancunian puddle chuckles.
In Manchester there lives the King of Puddles,
Master of Miniature Muck Lakes,
The Shah of Slosh, Splendifero of Splash,
Prince, Pasha and Pope of Puddledom.
Where? Somewhere. The rain-headed ruler
Lies doggo, incognito,
Disguised as an average, accidental mini-pool.
He is as scared as any other emperor,
For one night, all his soiled and soggy victims
Might storm his streets, assassination in their minds,
A thousand rolls of blotting paper in their hands,
And drink his shadowed, one-joke life away. Adrian Mitchell
the earth knows
both flood and drought,
and we the people know,
abundance and scarcity.
For all too many there
seems only flood, drought, and scarcity.
May I know that my good fortune is
not the result of some special blessing
but such good fortune
demands from me greater responsibility
to care and provide for those who never know
where the next meal is coming from or who
suffer time after time the ravages of our climate’s extremes.
May I know that the call of the gospel is not for rewards
but for engagement to bring about your kingdom, O Lord.
Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
now make me part of the answer of this prayer
by the choices I make day to day.
Be with the church universal and remind us that the mission
of the church is Your mission, O loving Lord.
Help us to build not with bricks and mortar
but with forgiveness, love and grace.
Help us to invest not in markets,
but in the meaning of mission and salvation
that each person bears the image of God the Creator. Amen.