25 January 2013

March Hares

March Hares

I met an old man in my wanderings,
with thin grey hair and pale aged eyes,
who smiled at me as we passed
through the kissing gate at the end
of the path down from the high town.
By his side a dog of indiscriminate
parentage, brown inquisitive face,
ragged ears, eyes as dark and deep
as the waves which caress the old jetty.
His nose pushed into my hand, he
bestowed wet kisses on my fingers.
“Privileged creatures dogs -  further
than a mere man would dare go
with a stranger.” his master said.
He blew me a kiss and went away
whistling a sad haunting tune,
but his step was brisk and the set
of his head that of a happy man.

On a bank at the edge of a field
newly greened beneath the wall
of the old town, two hares boxed
on the March snow dusted turf.
They circled, hind legs erect,
feet en demi point, long ears
akimbo, front legs curved high
into the sky, two peasant dancers
in a dizzy rural pas de deux
whirling, bobbing, wheeling,
then subdued he bowed to her,
and docile followed after her.
I watched them, two brown
snowflakes, Eostre’s children
who melted away invisible
among the old trees, their once
exuberant presence marked
only by faint tracks in the snow.

I stood at the open graveside
where the old man lay in his coffin,
his small brown dog beside me
long nose resting on brown paws.
‘Eternal rest grant unto him
Light perpetual shine upon him’
The dog, sighing, licked my hand.
Together we walked the path
down from the high town,
past the old forest where
young leverets sleep and play
and white wood anemones bloom.
On to the beach amongst the
blue sea holly and grey leafed kale,
two Mad March Hares running
headlong into the new spring sun.

Brown Dog barks, and chases
a flock of teetering sandpipers,
while I hold up my arms to
radiant Phoebus, dazzling symbol
of Love and Light come again.

February . But only he who sees

February - ‘But only he who sees, takes off his shoes‘                    E B Browning

Through a gap in the harbour wall, on to the jetty
into the vortex of a feathered whirlpool,    
a flock of neat stone turning Arctic incomers seeking
the comforts of their winter holiday sun.
Oh my sweet avian children, how much
through the tiresome heat of the long summer days
have I missed you, and watched for your return.

Sharp above the curve of the West Cliff
in the marine aqua February sky,
floats an etherial marbled landscape
 of smokey dark hills, gilt tipped
by the weary sun’s spent rays,
while soft valleys of Alice blue grey spill
their gentle streams into the burnished sea.

Up the hill to the East Cliff to look across the water
in the early twilight, with the winter sky fading
now to soft Egyptian blue, muted echo
of the crowd of a thousand June butterflies,
Polyommatus icarus - the Common Blue,
who brushed past me one bright
morning as I rode high above Stone Bay.

How can I call these exquisite creatures ‘common’
 when I have seen that every one is unique in its beauty?
Is it possible that the turnstones arrive not
for my pleasure, but each to show the miracle
of the universe, mirrored in every diminutive descendent
of the Mesozoic feathered theropod?
Does the fragile landscape disappear, like a dream
overcome by the sad harsh light of morning,
or will it exist for ever in the sightless all seeing eyes
of a loving and immutable God?

If these things should be, then I will take off my shoes,
for in this place I too will walk on holy ground.