Under the Oak Trees of Mamre Genesis 18

Under the Oak Trees of Mamre                                Genesis 18


We have journeyed long between wilderness sun and shade

dragging Terah’s great vision with God-promises to match.

The years of hope and despair

grind out my soul

like mortar and pestle.

Give it up, Abram.

It’s done.

No descendants like stars.


Three visitors. “Welcome!”

Hospitality is survival out here.

“Get the flour, knead the bread old woman!”

“All of you who are mine –

kill the calf, smooth the cheese,

the richness of life on offer. Now!”

Earthly feast for heavenly presence.

Our poverty disguised.


I hobble.

A craggy old, baggy old

sack of bones

shrivelled by Hagar’s derision.

Hollowness remembered daily

in the shadow of her strapping young boy.


“Sarai will bear you a child”, the strangers said,

“before the year is out”.


I couldn’t help the laughter.

Beyond dry bitterness

an ironic splutter.


And so we laid together

like two open halves of a late summer peach,

drizzled with honey and juicy sweetness.

Just two old people

who love each other still.


Legacy for  generations.


Sharonne Price

March 2018



The introduction


I was supposed to introduce myself.

“Where do you come from?” they asked.

Such a simple thing, but I was confused.

A stumbling response – “I come from here.”


Truth is – I come from dust

whisked up in a whirly whirly

from remnant stars.


I come from love.

From play, from pleasure,

from sanctuary and wholeness.


I come from pomegranate

oozing red fruitfulness,

vivid and intricate.


I come from ash

fragments from a flame

retreating to ember softness.


I come from water,

rivers past rocks,

slow, slow drifting to sea.



I come from God.

God’s own.

Wind-shaped for purpose.


I was right.

I come from here.


Sharonne Price

In the dread of the night


In the dread of the night

a bird sings.

From the world beyond sight

something springs.

And ribbons of satin

flash colour and pattern –

I reach out, clutch inwards

and cling.


But this flight of the Spirit

won’t be held

in hands grasped too tight

for its spell.

Hope’s quicksilver flicker

will shimmer and shiver,

while the song that it sings

won’t be quelled.


So I listen so close

in the dark

while the mopoke calls back

to the lark.

Old sadness and sorrow

soon lifts on the morrow

and sweet birdsong

will herald its path.

©     Sharonne Price March 2018

Psalm 77:1-6

Grief has mined my soul

scoured through the gravel, tipped the tress,

exposed the heart,

carved its shape on me forever.

I am laid bare.

Yet …

From this barren centre where not even the roots survive

you have scooped jewels,

shaped and polished,

set the colours in place.

The valuables have been carted away.

I am excavated.


And what if …

What if there is only usefulness?

Only product and outcomes and balance sheets?

What if the soft earth never returns?

Will grief define me forever?


God, take away this trampling,

this roar of relentless destruction.

God, send the seasons

of predictable pain and joy

that seeds will take hold

and the world will flower again.

Sharonne Price

This poem was written after home visits to a young couple whose baby was dying. It would be the third infant death for them. “She will die soon,” they said, with a  desperate resignation.

The poem was first published in “Behold” magazine,  September- November 2006

The company of trees

The company of trees

These are the ones who endure,
who hold their sway
through the storm and the still.

These are the ones who grow
deep down in the stillness of things.
Ancient burials.

These are the ones who cradle safe
both raven and sparrow young
on slender ledge and landing.

This short green season of bounty
has grown from recent cold.
Exposed, retracted, reserved.

Now the leaves flutter
like prayer flags
released to summer breezes.

So in their company strengthened
I breathe in their living breath
Gentle gifts of sustenance.

And so may we grow strong together,
Quivering, but living old
One season at a time.

Colorado, May 2007

Drought breaker

Drought breaker

There is a whisper about.
Subversive, unfastened.

In the darkening, long shadows blur.
The magpie spreads her dusty wings
and chortling softy,
abandons her summer sentry post
to wait.

Soft leaves turned brown before their time,
Crinkled now and drooping sad,
Sense the change and flutter faintly,
Heads turned gasping t’ward a murmur
of hope.

The world’s gone quiet.
Muted, mysterious, grey to black.
The wrens twitter their families home.
They fluff and settle, burst expectant,
then still.

The earth turns her face to the broody sky.
A drop or two, then gentle release.
The soft cloudy veil unfolds
for the consummating kiss.

Sweet rain.

© Sharonne Price



There is a road to Mavele
in South Africa.
We fill the taxi
and cram in cheek by jowl
like the fruit in the bags we carry.
We watch each other,
smell each other’s sweat
and the dust comes in.

There is a road to Mavele,
just out of Tzaneen.
The driver brakes and turns,
slips and slides,
and we hold on
through the dips of soft potholes
and the dust comes in.

Oh Mavele
where young girls fight danger,
hunger, TB, HIV, and fear itself.
Grip hard
for life’s sake !
And the dust comes in.

Oh Mavele
your Tsonga and Sotho songs
are quieted.
And the kids hang about
’cause the teacher’s on strike.
Water is carried like gold
and the dust comes in.

They are making a new road
just beside Mavele.
The trucks bring gravel and tar.
They rumble all day.
It may go past Mavele.
New South Africa?
The dust comes in.

There is a child in Mavele,
who fashions a rolling toy
from old wire and odd wheels.
He smiles and watches,
dreams and schemes.
He is the new South Africa.
He will not bypass Mavele
where the dust comes in.

© Sharonne Price June 07

Dementia Triptych

Dementia I Evangelina

(Written after a pastoral visit to an elderly woman with dementia and awaiting placement in residential care)

I think my mind has slipped a notch
Soft purple beanie on Pandora’s box.

Fish and chips in Hindmarsh
Seven days a week, so hot,
Fillet and fry, drain and wrap,
Two and six the lot.

I think I lost a tooth last night.
Must have swallowed it in the nightly grind.

Memories in vague recall,
No Dad, no babe, no cot,
There was a boy who cruelly placed
Word stones in his keen slingshot.

Silver whiting on a golden beach
Tossed and dumped right into harm’s reach.

Not even priestly jewels
Can crown a life like mine
God’s left me like a pile of rags
Flip flop on an old clothesline.

Don’t be kind girl, you want me gone
These unravelling threads drag on and on.

Hey…I remember you
Kind eyes, soft touch you had,
A flutter of recognition
Sweet drop of Gilead.

I’ll hold on to this truth right here.
Might be the only one I’ll have all year.

Dementia II Given the Slip

They tell me
I’m drifting from my moorings.
Happened when
I wasn’t looking
and suddenly the distant shore
is not so distant.
Can’t turn this boat around.
Best pray for fair weather.

They tell me
I’m losing my grip
on things that should matter
Prime Ministers and dates and things – Pish!
Great submerged something
steamed into full pelt.
So, like Leonardo from Kate
best slip into icy waters.

Shall I falter
Tiptoe in the wintry dawn?
Or linger on
like summer’s last lick?
Can’t make sense
of an axis that’s tilted.
Best keep on turning
towards judgment day.

Dementia III End Times

These are the end times.
No placard, no place…

These are the end times.
A raging skyscape
red in the morning,
Was it yesterday or tomorrow?
Forwards or backwards, it makes no difference.

Lingering end times.
Seeping slowly like overfill under the door
and onto the carpet…

Lost in the end times.
There’s urine and poo and sloppy food
and you…
World without end.
No Amen.

All in a half day.

I tug for my faith –
blankets someone’s stolen in the night.
Gone cold.

My blind beggar’s theology
Calls for mercy
And it comes…

Just for me.

© Sharonne Price

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma

A lone dingo
howls in the night.
Predatory loneliness
stalks just beyond fright.

I hear her still.
Further? No, close.
To this boundary rider
Am I victim or host?

The sun’s long gone,
the moon’s dipped and turned.
No shadows, no shelter.
Desert stars unconcerned.

She howls again,
then trots away.
But the soul’s long sinewy night
is here to stay.

© Sharonne Price

Low Saturday Lazarus

Low Saturday Lazarus

They have taken him down.
We are entombed once more.
Airless, gasping, hopeless, grasping,
I’ve been here before.

Dark dank stone in cold salute,
no light, no shaft, no torch.
E’en terror has no shape down here,
and I cannot call him forth.

Icy graveclothes bind us both,
sour grief my only choice.
No cosmic quantum spark for him,
no breath, no word, no voice.

I’m rescued once to grieve again,
still mortal, still constrained.
Fool! Once I thought his dazzled life
could never be contained.

Go on through all the paces,
hope buried, questions rife.
Slink homewards all you devotees.
We’re sentenced, all, to life.

© Sharonne Price