The Tortoise and the Porcupine

You burst out
And I retract
Sometimes you are too harsh for me
Your wits too spiky
Your words they stab me
Though you are just stretching
Scattering random blows for fun
Nothing really aimed at me
But it makes me fear what you say
When I am not there.
I’m a tortoise and you’re a porcupine;
we are strange friends perhaps.
My shell seems stone-like
But I’m so soft beneath
That self-defence is a necessity
All I can do sometimes
Is put distance between me and
The thing that stings –
On this occasion, you.
And you are the opposite:
Prickling at what hurts,
Sharpness taking me by surprise.
It’s like
We both taste poison in the water
But whilst I cry it out
You just spit
And I’m hit
In the heart
By the words that you emit.
What can I do to love you
When I share my vulnerability
And you unwittingly
Cause me pain?
And how on earth do I tell you
that it hurts?


Doing a Nathan

“Prophets are never welcome in their own town”
They decide to listen to
that holy discontent
That call to become a
divine pain in the ass.
I, like Isaiah,
Am only ever anointed
to fulfil a purpose.
We are called to be filled up
Not merely for fun
But in order to pour out again.
To “give good news to the poor
To bind up the broken-hearted
And proclaim freedom to the captives”.

If the way I must serve God
is by being an irritation
Like the prophets before me
And the parable’s persistent widow
That is what I shall be;
A grain of grit in their eyes
That produces
a pearl
of compassion.

God of Gideon,
Of David’s sling
And Nathan’s tale
Keep me being annoying
A teller of unpopular truths
For your good purposes
Even though it might get on top of me
And I feel fed up of opposition
And flee disillusioned like Elijah
Let me
Somehow be
The mother of pearls.