Afterwards, we became pilgrims

our feet following half-forgotten paths,
our feet grinding sand mud tarmac pavement –
a pilgrimage without a destination –

and, as pilgrims do, we shed possessions,
left behind all those empty things,
stepped out of our concrete boxes
and touched the earth
stepped out of our metal boxes
and nourished flesh

and walked
as pilgrims do
so that our world shrank and grew

breathing more freely with each step.
Afterwards, we became pilgrims,

palms open to the sky,
sailing to new worlds,
walking down those old paths,
forging new ways,
changing the world as we went.

This is for Brendan at Earthweal, who asks “What happens next?”. It feels like the world’s in a bad way. Corona virus brought so much fear and pain, and death, but also a chance to step back and live a little differently. The US is on fire. Governments put the economy before people. Democracy is in a bad place. I have no idea what will happen next, but I hope it’s better than this.

If you like this, and if you care about this stuff, then check out Earthweal. There are some interesting poets there, writing very interesting stuff.

10 thoughts on “Pilgrims

  1. I LOVE this vision, stepping out of the old ways, leaving them behind, heading towards a better tomorrow, palms open to the sky. Just beautiful.


  2. Oh yes please, Sarah, I’m happy to walk as pilgrims do, I want to change this awful world, palms open to the sky. I agree, it has taken the pandemic to make people step back and live a little differently. We hoped that everyone would see sense. Sadly, not everyone did., they remained self-interested, greedy and irresponsible, our government has been exposed as liars, and yes, they put the economy before people. The situation in America has me stunned..


  3. What comes next certainly can be with these steps. You have children, right? This progress toward pilgrimage has a mother’s touch which is both of the Earth and something far more personal. The assurance here is sweet and vast and very real. I’ll have some more of this, please, my silo is too stuffed with sour. – Brendan


    • Thank you, Brendan. I had this in my head for a couple of days, and then wasn’t sure whether to post it or not, given the intensity and immensity of what’s happening in the US at the moment. It seemed too gentle. However, on reflection, I think we need some gentleness at the moment, and some humility.

      Yes, I have children. One of the gifts (to me) of lockdown has been being able to spend unpressured time with them. They would both have had big exams this time. Instead, we’ve talked about important things, and trivial things, watched junk TV, walked, baked, cooked. They’re both really nice people. Sometimes you can forget to get to know your kids in all the rush of getting here, there and everywhere, and putting meals on the table, and washing clothes, and all that stuff. My daughter heads off in September, so I’m really pleased to have had this time with her.


    • Also, I never replied to your thoughtful comments about women’s bodies and the quest theme. I noticed it at the time, and I’ve been wondering about it. I don’t think there’s much precedent for questing for women, maybe our bodies are more public and politicised than men’s bodies?


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