Theophilus Kwek



Psalm 19

To the Fathers at the Paris Seminary
Jean-Marie Beurel, Priest, Church of the Good Shepherd, Singapore

On still days, when this meridian city
becomes an image of itself – masts
hung with cloud on the water, sky

turned to stone above white cornices –
I lock the church, and, skirting the yard, go
past the padang with its whinnying horses,

through orchards’ shade, across the narrow weir
where streets run out beyond the forest’s edge
and find, just a little north of here

cathedral silence, and a leaf-stained light
lifted as prayer into the trees’ transept
to join branches with the flood and flight

of tropical birds, like a jewel intact.
Wonder with me: how faith follows sight
in this small harbour, where the rich and wrecked

gather to be blessed at journey’s end,
sand’s soft language fills the buttress roots
and wears our feet like another land.

Here He is, still. God of the distance
and river’s overflow, stars’ luminescence.
Harvest’s full, fell hour. First snow.


*Psalm 19 was first published in Giving Ground (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2016)

Theophilus Kwek  is the author of three collections, They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue (2011), Circle Line (2013), and Giving Ground (2016). He won the Jane Martin Prize in 2015 and the New Poets Prize in 2016, and was president of the Oxford University Poetry Society.

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