WINTER IS COMING
Winter is coming, circling around the house and garden
The grass already white over,
The last of the dahlias bending their heads to the cold.
Over the hedge, a fierce, clear brilliance sets everything sparkling.
Even the big tree, all leaves lost, stands white and starry.
Somewhere, over the fields, a fox barks,
Sending the plump little pheasants huddling deeper into cover.
Darkness down the quiet street,
Split now by a square of yellow light flaring in an anxious window.
Not long after, the long car of a night Doctor pulls up silently.
A brisk tap tap of sharp heels urgent to the waiting door wide open,
Makes the sleeping houses quiver.
All those still awake, sinking deeper into their restless pillows,
Pulling the covers over their heads.
Slowly, the moonlight drifts across the garden,
Lovely shards of icy silver picking out the stray black cat,
Courageous as any Roman conqueror,
Shadowing the grass with his magnificent presence.
Then the creak of an old bench, as someone, out there in the darkness,
Newly bereft and soundlessly weeping clutches at the solid wood.
Praying its solidity will lend itself to their splintered grief
In this new world they are suddenly lost in.
This is the way it is, when winter is circling around the house and garden,
And people are lying in their beds, thinking.
© 2018 Gwen Grant
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
The last time I saw that poem
It was getting on a train
For the far north.
It likes it up there,
Crunching about in the ice and snow,
Climbing up small mountains,
Picking up the odd abandoned word or phrase
Lying amongst the grey stones and heather.
By nightfall, it’ll be in its room, changing,
Emptying its pockets onto the bed,
Choosing a word to sparkle here,
A phrase to quietly glow there.
Ready, now, for a night of changing partners.
Until all scrubbed up, brushed down
And wildly excited,
It’s finally ready to dance.
Any time now, I expect that poem to come home.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
THE LION MAN
This lion man
Is so beautiful
It makes my heart
For in its
Wrecked and lovely
Born from darkness
Into this greater darkness,
Where every soul realizes
Yet lovers must love,
From loving lips.
In their enduring,
In their laughter,
In their bold living.
To that darkness.
Inhabit those frozen
Create the Lion man
In us all.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
That day in Lincoln Cathedral,
The scent of roses in the air so strong,
I thought there must be some pretty dame
With high heels and posh perfume around.
But there was no-one,
Only me and God and the great circular window
Full of coloured glass, glinting down at us.
It was all so stern, so forbidding,
So ‘in your face’ with the grey stone,
The slabs of walls and hard stone benches,
The weary pavements where thousand year old
Shadows of monks still lapped
Remorselessly up and down.
This house is grey, great slabs of greyness,
With great roofs pressing down
Even as they soared into emptiness,
Undercutting the power structure of witless men
Determined to impress God,
Maybe, with a small nudge to eternity,
Secure a place on that heavenly panel.
Here some warning hand has put an Imp,
But no number of Imps or poker-faced priests,
Or high-hatted, rich robed fleshy monuments to the past
Can distract us from the petal of a fallen flower
Lying scarlet on the stone cold floor,
Pulsing with a life far beyond us.
Love steadies the candle flames
Of small lanterns shining through the hazy darkness
Of a great Cathedral.
Illuminating that which cannot be seen,
Giving glory to that which cannot be touched,
The unspoken harmony of prayer
Enfolding God and us and Love.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
This is a house of ghosts,
Moonlight painting their shadows on the walls.
That one, just above the picture rail
Eats spiders; blows moths out of windows.
The other one lounges on top of the skirting board,
Playing a long game of patience,
Totting up my birthdays,
Sending mean, sidelong glances, warning me
Not to knock the wood with the heel of my shoe,
Otherwise, what birthdays I have left, will all come together.
Sometimes, these shadows go too far,
Peering round the doors of whichever room I am in.
Curious to see what I am doing,
Keeping an eye on me,
Their narrow yellow eyes gleeful when they catch me
planning a future.
I don’t know who these shadows are.
If only I knew their names
I could gather them all together,
Push them into the late-flowering dahlias,
And lock the door behind them.
For as long as they are here,
They are impatient for me to join them.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
Bitter winter, I exult in you.
You are my gift, my shroud, my winding sheet,
My creative death,
Pausing me in a frozen still-life
So that other life can break in,
Changing still-life to full life.
Lovely, lovely winter,
With all your subtle colour,
Your peerless blues and high violets flushing
Your avalanche of lemon light and tender light
Makes me shake and shiver,
Shaking loose the hidden smoulder
Of scarlet tipped berries burning through darkness.
Those bonfires of memory reminding us
Of the steady scintillation of our hearts.
How I love your cold breath
Blowing me always into a new passion.
Blow, winter winds!
Blow your bitter chills until the sky dances,
The sea rages
And all the plump little mermaids
Leap to the surface of the holy water.
Mermaids who laugh at the scunning ships,
At the flag-sailed ships of myth and story,
Bringing us cargoes of dreams and coral and lost sea-horses,
All touched with glory.
Look at the beauty of winter.
Look at the white peacocks flirting with the frosty hoar.
Look at the dark clouds racing darkly over the water
Towards the great-beaked swan
Who pecks gold from the tight-skeined air.
© 2019 GWEN GRANT
THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW
That long dirty road
Washed by rain,
Shines now in the lamplight.
Running down each side,
Are stubborn in their silence,
Pitiless in their blankness.
No-one is out tonight,
No footsteps echoing through the quiet air,
Just lonely eyes
Looking through bare and dusty windows,
Wishing someone would walk by.
Perhaps even turn in at the gate.
Step inside for a chat and a cup of coffee.
But that never happens.
The kettle stays cold,
The biscuits put back
In the tin.
And the china cup and saucer
With the little silver spoon,
Carefully replaced in the cupboard.
Tonight the armchair
Pulled up to the fire
There’s always tomorrow.
©2019 Gwen Grant