THE CORNFIELDS AT PRAYER

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THE CORNFIELDS AT PRAYER

So the long cool night begins
And through the quiet darkness
I thought I heard the corn stalks talk
Of all the whispered night-time prayers
Drifting over the fields,
Setting the corn to its own prayer whispering.

Then I heard the corn stalks talk
Of all the little living prayers.
The lovely hares leaping
And the small creatures seeking
The bread of life in the earth beneath them,
And quiet lovers walking the poppied grasses,
Breathing promises and prayers
Into the listening darkness.

I know I heard the corn stalks talk
Of the old traditions of hay-making and stooking,
Of sowing and reaping,
Of the laughter of bare armed innocents driven to distraction
By those thin shining spears prickling and stippling,
Until they almost longed to leave
The praying cornfields whispering.

I expect, though, that the corn stalks talk
Of different things
On the bleak plains of grief, for instance,
Or on the long shades of despair,
Taking for their own the bone bare prayer
Of the suffering heart bleeding into the suffering air.
All is loss and lamentation,
Until they sing of a strong and eternal love
That is forever sowing and forever reaping
Love at the beginning and love at the ending.
So the prayers of the world are heard
In the whispering cornfields prayer.

                             © GWEN GRANT

SEAHORSE MOVING

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    SEAHORSE MOVING 

This little seahorse,
Stitched to the linen
In my fingers,
With gold thread, silver, and a blue
So deep,
It promises unassailable peace. 

This tiny creature,
Delicate as kindness,
Moves through the darkest water,
Holding on to the hope
Of the next sunlit morning. 

Its fragile strength
Defeating the stormiest sea. 

                               © Gwen Grant

WAITING FOR SUNRISE

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   WAITING FOR SUNRISE

There they are,
Sheaves of hay lying in the fields
Like golden Lovers,
Waiting for sunrise,
Waiting for the sun’s warmth
To cradle their tired heads.
Make soft shadows of eyelashes
Lying quiet against their faces. 

Don’t wake them,
Let them rest.
For over the thorn hedge
In the next field waiting,
Winter lies on his elbow,
Frosty fingers all set
To kill summer stone dead.

Here comes the sun.
Time enough now to shake their shoulders
Before the frost gets close enough to touch them.

Hold hands, Lovers.
Hold hands and run.

                                                    © Gwen Grant

ANEMONES

Anemones-Flower6
Anemones are so understatedly beautiful until they flower,
then the deep glowing colours shine.  There’s a strip of waste land alongside a house we pass when we go into town which someone has adopted.  The gardener has planted iris, primrose, violas, poppies, daffodils and lots of other flowers and, always amongst them, the anemone.  At the moment, these are a rich burning red and a deep azure blue.   This is a second showing for this poem.   

                         ANEMONES 

Another scratchy night,
With the moon hiding and clouds
Covering the stars.
Bitter thoughts bringing bitter tears,
With memory offering no comfort
Or consolation. 

Maybe there is a loving hand
To hold your hand,
And maybe not.
Maybe you will remember
Those who once loved you,
And maybe you will forget
How loved you once were. 

But when memory fails,
When peace slides out of reach
And touch is never going to be the same again,
You will find strength
In the love that shows itself
In the tenderness of anemones,
Bunched in a small bowl,
Standing on the dark windowsill. 

                               ©  GWEN GRANT

LOST VOICES

derelict chapel

                                           LOST VOICES

These old, cold meeting rooms and deserted chapels are derelict now.
Hiding behind weeds and raw, self-set trees,
Just waiting for someone to come along and buy them.
Turn them into flats or offices.
Not nearly as much fun as a gaggle of people
Singing those great old hymns and songs
That solaced and supported whole generations.
Those dauntless songs and psalmodies that made the white opaque lampshades,
Wide and lovely as floating tents, tremble and sway on the wings of melody.
Now, a lullaby, now a trumpet call of men marching to destruction
Or to share in the lonely and terrible deaths of others.

Here is the tiny kitchen, with the battered aluminium kettle
Rattling against the rusted taps,
Waiting to fill the giant teapots for throats dry after all that singing.

There is the strip of linoleum, torn and dirty on the worn out floor
Still showing its faint brown pattern. 
A skirt of torn cotton hanging from a broken wire
No longer hides the clean cups and saucers
In the deep wooden cupboard, nor protects the plates, big and small,
Stamped with the name of this once much-loved place.
All gone, except a broken fragment of pot with a few faint words remaining.

Standing amongst the cobwebs, the torn pages of old music
Almost playing themselves in the dusty silence,
I hum an old remembered song of such power and beauty,
All the lost dead and all the forgotten living
Ring out their strong and lovely voices in joyful chorus.
Sharing this last remembrance before it is gone for ever.

                                                                 © Gwen Grant

LOOKING ACROSS THE TAY

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I first blogged this poem in October 2017 when blogging was absolutely new and strange to me and I was unaware of how much pleasure it would bring.

We have a favourite place in Scotland that overlooks the River Tay, so we often just sit there and watch the water.  The Tay is also known as the ‘Silver’ Tay and it really does shine silver.  It’s a very beautiful river.

Behind where we sit, there is an Old People’s Care Home and the ladies are often sat in their little conservatory.  Although they are old and sometimes fragile, you can still see in them the lovely young women they once were.  That they can see the Tay, too, must be a tremendous pleasure to them.

This is the poem I wrote about that Care Home and the ladies.

                        LOOKING ACROSS THE TAY

The swans are out again,
Shimmering on the dark water,
Dipping into the splashes of moonlight
they become moonlight themselves,
Every feather sculpted in light.
Little white snowflake swans
Drifting down the silent river.

Behind us lies the Care Home,
Where glass walls welcome the lovely moon
And one lone bed
With a quilt as red as roses,
Lies empty in a corner.    

The old ladies who live there,
Watching the white and sparkling swans
Sailing on the glittering water,
Dreamily send their pretty, remembered bodies,
Down that golden moonlit path.
Frail little birds
Who soon overtake the swans.

This river and heaven
Must have a lot in common.              

©GWEN GRANT

THE GLORY MARCH

dangerous river

This poem is from a series of poems I wrote for the Southwell Minster (Southwell, Nottinghamshire, UK,) magazine.  As some were specifically meant for children, I invented a class of children with their imaginary teacher, Miss McPherson.  As I went from poem to poem, I got to know Miss McPherson and her children well and was very fond of them all.  It was good to read the responses from people of all ages who read these poems.  They were published in other magazines but I remain as attached to them now as I was when I  first wrote them.

             THE GLORY MARCH

‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’
Miss McPherson cried.
‘Why, children,’ she said, before we could speak,
‘It was to get to the other side.
Like Joshua crossing the Jordan River,
With his people, the Israelites.’
Then Miss McPherson told the story
Of Joshua and his march of glory.

‘Moonlight glittered on the tents of evening,
Its silver light all glittering and gleaming
Into the eyes of the people waiting
For Joshua to lead them across the Jordan,
Through the pearly dawn of an early morning.
In their tents, they all heard the roaring,
The rushing and the racing of the furious waters,
That made them afraid and set them awailing,
Wailing and weeping that the river would drown them.
But Joshua slept the whole of the night,
For he’d asked God to see them right.’

When Miss McPherson stopped for breath,
Harry put up his hand and said,
‘End of story.  That lot’s dead!’
But Miss McPherson shook her head.
‘Not so, Harry,’ she grinned and chortled.
‘Why, when Joshua reached the banks of the Jordan,
With the Israelites ranged all about and around him,
The water had gone!  Not a drop remaining!
God had emptied that river and stopped the water,
So that Joshua and his people could cross without danger,
To the rich green shores of the land of Canaan.’

We cheered!  We cried, ‘Well done, God!’ we clapped.
‘So, remember, children,’ Miss McPherson said,
You can cross any river you have to cross
When God is at your back.’
And Clyde muttered, ‘Yeah!  Right on!’

                                  © Gwen Grant