Painting a forlorn landscape
with hopeless dirty greys, weeping browns
and shadows so persistent
that lamenting inhabitants are seen barely,
merely wide-eyes faintly visible in darkness,
fearful, indistinguishable from animals
cowering bewildered, not comprehending
what they might have done
to deserve such desolation.
So the painter prophet called Jeremiah
pours upon his parchment canvas
the bleak and bloody fulfilment
of the sins of a people.
Were he a contemporary artist
two and a half millennia later,
Jeremiah might use a similar palette
of dust and blood
to portray peoples
who share dark pain and bitterness.
In Afghanistan, North Africa, Iraq, Syria,*
and any of a score of nations
we find them,
reaping the cruel costs of fear
and the sins of the world.
In Australia, too, having sold compassion
for the price of cheap comfort,
we join Jeremiah’s pitiful queue,
desperately hoping for refuge
and a glimmer of grace.
*Insert your own current places of fear and terror.