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.