11 August 2013

August : August Lament

August Lament : Strawberries in December

August nineteen forty three,
beneath a crystal canopy
of sweet sunshine warm air
they took me to the seaside.
We sat on a beach as clean
as my grandmother’s kitchen,
we paddled in rock pools
whose water was as clear
as the unpolluted night sky.
They carried me laughing,
shoulder high into the waves,
and I could see small crabs
dancing on a carpet of sand,
fine white gold and blue.

We climbed up the long hill
and sat on the world’s edge, 
small fields below spread
across the landscape like
a soft lopsided patchwork, 
ochre, ebony and poppy red
stitched unevenly together
with dull green hedge and 
shimmering leafed tree. 
Here linnets and turtle doves
sang, yellow hammers made 
their nests on hedgerow banks
strewn with purple honesty,
white comfrey, pink motherwort.

From my high grassy perch
I could see diminutive
white ducks on the pond,
graceful in the rippling water;
two massive Suffolk mares
pulling the wooden plough,
their chestnut coats glowing
flames against the soil dark
first furrows of the year.
And there were butterflies,
Large Tortoiseshells orange
bright, the vivid Adonis Blue, 
marbled High Brown Fritillaries
and dignified Dingy Skippers.

Some seventy years later 
as the dull grey toxic cloud
rolls along the Gallic coast,
masking the sun, staining
sullen water and dismal sky,
I take myself to the seaside.
Spilled oil rimmed rock pools 
have become graveyards
for cormorant and little tern;
the laced foam, once white,
is thick with yellow sludge
meandering across a slimy 
floor of malignant polythene.
No crabs are dancing here.

Up to the top of the long hill
where, spread out before me,
a hundred acre field suffocates 
beneath a ton of vicious glass.
I see no hedges, hear no birds
sing, no wildflowers turn
their sweet faces to the sun,
no butterflies flutter in this
hot dusty August afternoon.
Persistent Greed has connived 
with reckless Progress to
lay waste to the simpler world 
of my childhood, for all must now
have strawberries in December.


July : Child on the hillside

July : Child on the hillside

Lit by the sweet Devon sunshine
on a hill overlooking the moor
some sixty something years ago,
the loveliness of leaf and tree,
of petal and flower, of dancing water
and shimmering gorse, opened wide
the eyes of her soul to the divine.
God the Invisible, the Ineffable, 
Creator, Universal Father, source
of all this pure empyrean beauty, 
presented it to a child who wept
perceiving that such transcendent
glory would endure, while she 
like a feather tossed in a stream,
must float away unremembered
into the dark shadows of oblivion.

As fading woodsmoke rises
lazily into a summer evening,
tendrils of incense delicately
embraced the lime white stone
of the sanctuary where the young 
woman knelt, lost in the unfolding 
drama of the eternal filial sacrifice.
‘Jesus, Jesus, ’ she murmured,
the mantra which bound her anew
to two thousand years of love
and dedication to the unloved,
the lonely, the sinner and the saint.
And she smiled as she recalled
the frightened child on the moor,
now made content by the Gospel
of Almighty God becoming Man.

As her life unfolded  the Christ
became her guide, her teacher, 
her confidant, her friend.
In times of great uncertainty,
of disaster and stark despair, 
he pointed her to heaven,
to the Father whom she had first 
met on that long ago sacred day.
When ugly pain engulfed her 
and only the presence of God 
remained in the core of her being,
she perceived that the man Jesus
was the greatest of all men,
but whose resurrection existed 
only in the hearts of those who
were minded to walk with him.

She walks now on that quiet path
in a valley whose name is Content.
The enervating heat of noon is past
and the healing breezes of evening
teal silently out of the shadows.
The child she used to be takes
her hand, and whispers to her that
what there is, is all there is,
and all there is, is gift enough
to be made of, or not, as she wills.
She feels the presence of the past,
the high peaks, the bottomless pits,
loving and loss, sadness and joy,
her young self, and her strong self, 
while a man whose yoke is easy, 
leads her gently into the morning.