LOVELY WINTER

Snow_Scene_at_Shipka_Pass_1

LOVELY WINTER

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
the snow,
Your avalanche of lemon light and tender light
Whose sight
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! Look!
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
                                               gwen@gwengrant.co.uk

THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW

chair at window

THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW

That long dirty road
Washed by rain,
Shines now in the lamplight.
Darkened houses
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
Stays empty.

But
There’s always tomorrow.

                                          ©2019 Gwen Grant

MIDDLE ENGLAND

old rail lines

                    MIDDLE ENGLAND

Aconites shower colour onto the grass,
Their gleaming petals lying gold
Against the faded silver of petals past.
Bright as summer, they blossom.
Bright as false promises of a brilliant future.
At the bottom of the fields, the stream
Leaps like a lamb over brown stones
Lying on the river bed.
It’s here that in the dusk,
The bats play Tag in the scented air
And through this clear water,
Fish flirt with the rising moon.

This is middle England.
A land of spell and myth,
Where corn fields roll over roads,
Fly up hills
And plunge reckless to the valley.

Last century,
Within memory of men around here,
Within memory of women’s hands
Beating coal dust out of clothing,
Pitheads were sewn into this land,
Tall pit wheels standing
Like slivers of jet in the land around them.
Lovely ships anchored to a soft horizon,
Floating over tree tops.

Now these ships of the earth’s core
Are gone.
Their blackened docks,
Their ugly quaysides destroyed.
They were majestic,
Like the Queens of the ocean,
Lit from stem to stern with pinpoints
Of light.

Will it all go?
Aconites, river, hill and valley.
We weep for what has already gone.
Let the trees stay,
Let those old forest remnants
Give bone to the earth,
Joining bone to loved bone.

                                         © 2019 Gwen Grant

FROM BEING SMALL…..

rain-window-1100x733

     FROM BEING SMALL…..

We know that if the years have taught
us one thing.
It is this.
That unless there is love,
The words of the weak
Will be written in tears
On the windows of the world.

                                  © 2019 Gwen Grant

APPLE MORNING

apple tree

    APPLE MORNING

 Early in the morning
When the mist comes rolling in from the fields,
And the queer little ghosties
Come riding and writhing within it,
Sometimes leaping the battered old fence,
Other times sneaking through the holes
In the lacy broken wood,
Crossing the garden like smoke,
Coming to rest under the apple tree,
It is then I see their long grey fingers
Reaching through the leaves,
Winding around the shining apples
As if to pluck them from the branch and eat them,
And by eating, gain life.

But then the Autumn sun slides
Into the garden behind them,
Patting the twinkling shadows
Into tiny shapes of apple and leaf,
Weaving the winking apples into its sunny fingers,
Swallowing the mist and the little creeping ghosties,
Dusting those green, green apples with a flush of rosiness.

Neither pen, nor film, nor brush, nor quill
Can catch their utter loveliness.
No, all that can be done
Is to pick and hold and taste their glory,
Whilst the birds, the goats,
And the horse in the paddock
Who leans its head over the dead Philadelphus,
Over the tiny ghosties hiding in the dying flowers,
All hold back to await another apple morning.

                                                              © 2018 Gwen Grant

HOPSCOTCH

hop scotch 2

              HOPSCOTCH

Hopscotch isn’t a game,
It’s a science,
A mathematical challenge,
An exercise into just how far
Your stone will slide
Over those ten squares
Stretching into infinity.
Most important of all
Is the application of logic,
To determine if this
Is an exercise in futility
Or if you have at last learnt to hop,
And stand on one leg. 

                      © 2017 GWEN GRANT

THE LAST PSALM

children dancing

                                       THE LAST PSALM 

You know when one person sneaks up on another person
And scares them?
Well, this is exactly what happened with us and Miss McPherson
That awful morning when, totally without warning, she flung out her arms
And, ‘Psalms, children!’ she cried. ‘Psalms! Psalms!  Psalms!’ 

The whole class froze.
No-one blinked their eyes, licked their lips or even picked their nose.
But we all fretted
Because the last psalm we ever heard
We had to be the sheep and Phoenix was the shepherd,
Who was supposed to lead us safely through the school and down the halls
But banged us into desks and doors and crashed us into walls
Until, Miss McPherson frowned, ‘Phoenix.  Please!  Sit down.
Let this be a lesson, sheep.  Only follow God around.’ 

Chantal, who’s new, she stood up.
I know all about palms, Miss,’ she said, coughed once, then went,
The tree that is known as a palm, can only grow where it is warm.’
Palms?’ cried Miss McPherson, so amazed,
She had to hang onto the Assembly hall curtain.
Not palms, Chantal.  Psalms!  Like the last psalm.
That dear little, sweet little, neat little psalm
That sings of God and His heavens all studded with stars.’ 

What!’ Tracey asked.  ‘Like Ruby’s Mum who has studs
In places you can see and in places that you can’t?
No,’ said Miss McPherson.
Even though Ruby’s Mum’s diamond studs sparkle in the dark. 

Jason read that psalm and it was really sharp.
Sing and dance for God,’ he read.  ‘Play the lyre and the harp.’
You don’t want to go near no harp,’ Harry warned.
Strum your fingers down those wires once only
And it’ll slice them up like pepperoni.’ 

We hadn’t got any lyres, (Only Charles, ha ha!),
Nor flutes, nor harps, nor timbrels.
But we had drums, Miss McPherson’s old piano, and two shining sets of cymbals.
So, we danced and sang for God until music rocked the school
And tumbled every single person out of every single room
To join in that last psalm song.
But the best thing about it all,’ Clyde said,
The psalm was so short and the joy was so long.’                           

                                                                           ©  2016 GWEN GRANT