THE ARTIST AND HER FISH

This poem is one of a series of poems I wrote about
several paintings done by a friend.  Poems and paintings
went on exhibition at Southwell Minster and it was
very satisfying to see them together for that one time.   

             

                      THE ARTIST AND HER FISH

                   Fling the wide river of life right
                   around the world.
                   Fling it round.
                   Fill it with coral and weed,
                   Whales and whelks and beautiful fish,
                   Fill it with mollusc and minnows and those
                   pearly pink shells
                   You can hear the sound of the sea in.
                   Spill it onto the land.
                   Spill it over,
                   Swooning and singing with the voices of angels,
                   Or the roar of a giant,
                   Or the steady murmuring lisp of a baby falling asleep.
                   Fill it, Lord.
                   Be bountiful.
                   Crab.  Lobster.  Cockles.  Flat fish.
                   Round fish.  Jelly fish.  Fish with square noses.
                   Sword fish.  Dog fish.  Cod fish
                   And my beautiful yellow fish.
                   Let them swim
                   In the wide river of life you have flung
                   around the world.                
                                                                 © Gwen Grant                                                                                     

ALL THE BLUE IN THE WORLD

 

At our front doorstep, we have a tiny flower, much
smaller than the other flowers around it, and yet it
is so blue, its blueness shines out and turns all the
other lovely flowers into handmaidens. This flower
is called LITHODORA.

ALL THE BLUE IN THE WORLD

This tiny flower,
Smaller than a baby’s smallest finge
r,
is so blue,
The wonder is that any blueness
is left in the world,
Drenched and drowned in colour
as this little flower is.

There is passion here,
A deep, unfailing tenderness
In its tiny petalled perfection.
Nothing has been held back,
No scintilla of grace denied
To this small and lovely blossom.

This scrap of beauty,
Its clear blue flame
Shining down the damp and grassy darkness,
Lights the dark path in front of us,
Giving a sudden, startling glimpse
Of a blazing, generous love.
                                                  © GWEN GRANT

MR ESPALIER

 

This poem came to be written because I’d been thinking about a
music teacher we had at school.  He was a very diffident man who
had to try and teach some elements of music to a crowd of children
for whom, by and large, music was a closed book.  He stuck in my
mind because I liked him and liked what he was endeavouring to
do.  Of course, a couple of years later came rock and roll, the
w
hole world of music opened up to us and then we were all
music,
music, music!

       MR ESPALIER

Mr. Espalier, our music teacher,
Took himself very seriously,
So we had to take him seriously, too.
He would sit at the piano, strike a key,
Muse, ‘Top C’, do you see?’
Then launch into a melody so beyond us,
Only every now and again would a phrase catch our attention,
Stopping the tapping of pencils on teeth,
Lulling us into a silence that made us stop and listen.

But Mr. Espalier was full of surprises,
One day swinging into music that followed us home,
Curling all around the council houses,
Weaving in and out of the pink ‘Peace’ roses
Flowering in almost every garden,
Dogging our heels, scaring the unwary,
Banging on front doors and demanding entry.

We flung the doors wide enough, of course,
For every note to march straight in.
Until, like Mr. Espalier, this friendly, beaming stranger,
Demanded our full concentration before it would begin,
Almost carelessly, to give us its family name.

It was Dave Brubeck and Fats Waller,
Moody blues man, Muddy Waters.
Chopin and his mazurkas,
Ravel and Woody Guthrie.
Honky-tonk, rock’n’roll and Gospel Mahalia.
Sibelius, with the drowning beauty of his ‘Finlandia.’
‘Ophelia!  Oh, Ophelia!’
Silky Peggy Lee and lovely ice-cool Ella.
Stravinsky in the Spring and Arnold Schoenberg
Whose every chord sent a flurry
Of exclamation marks flying through the air,
Filling every child there full of astounded questions.
Then, ‘Stand to attention, you lot at the back,’
For here comes Elgar,
As this glorious new family member
Claimed our hearts once for always and for ever.

It was probably then that Mr. Espalier’s class
Of soul-hungry children,
Whose family name had always been, ‘Rejection,’
Decided to grow roses when we got older
To honour him.
                                               © GWEN GRANT

 

 

 

TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

junk

Sometimes, we see the reality of relationships
and sometimes, we don’t.

   TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

If, carefully,
I made a blue Chinese junk
And put it at your feet
Very tenderly.
Would you take it into your hands
And keep it safe.
Or would you breathe upon it a small wind
To make it float away from you.

Or would you,
Very gently,
Maroon it on a waterlily
And let it rot.

As usual.
                         © GWEN GRANT

ANEMONES

Awake one night after a demanding day, I was thinking through
events and, at one point, deep in sadness and regret, I realised
I was forgetting all that gives comfort.  So that I could remember
those lovely things in future, I wrote 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 a dark windowsill.

                                       ©GWEN GRANT

 

HOPSCOTCH

hop scotchWe played a lot of outside games as children and
one of our favourites was hopscotch.  In hopscotch
there had to be drawn with chalk on the pavements, ten
squares but squares that began with a single square,
then a double square, then two single squares,
a double, a single and a final double, all numbered one
to ten.

We all had our hopscotch stones, which we guarded with our lives. 
These were ordinary stones polished until they shone
and so, sped smoothly to the square we needed as if
they were on wheels.  But you had to judge how much impetus to
give to the stone and that was the secret!

When you’d worked that out, you had to hop to that square and
pick up your stone whilst still standing on one leg.  The first
one to triumphantly hit 9 and 10 and was able to hop to it without
putting a foot down through nerves or because you were being
heckled, exactly to that end, well, that was the one who won the
game.

There was another game we used to play – high-kelly, which
was doing a handstand against a wall.  You kept your head
up and stared at the red bricks until they were burnt onto your
eyes.  To do a high-kelly in the days when jeans were not an
option, meant tucking your skirt into the elasticated hems of
your knickers so that you were always ‘decent’!   As always,
with every endeavour, there was one little rebel who preferred
her skirt
to hang down over head. Sometimes, you were the rebel,
sometimes it was someone else. But there was always room for
everyone – rebels and peace-makers both.

              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. 

                      © GWEN GRANT

 

NOW THIS HOUR

At this time in the UK, we have Armistice Day, which is the 11th day
of the 11th month, when we observe two minutes silence in love
and remembrance of all those who have died in war and other
conflicts.  I wrote this poem to remember all those who are no
longer with us.    

  NOW THIS HOUR

Now this hour has come
And he has gone.
Slipped the ties that moored him
To this, our common land.
And we, who have come
To salute him, have come late,
For he has already set his course
Into the morning sun.

He was valiant,
As are all who sail
These uncharted seas.
But we who have helped him 
Fashion his life barque
With faith and hope and love,
Together have made it strong.
Strong enough
To take him safely home.

Battalions go out to meet him,
To lead him
Into quiet harbour
On that sun-drenched shore
Where he waits for us.
But now, he turns and smiles,
And that most dear and valiant heart,
In his turn, salutes us.

                               ©GWEN GRANT