When I was a child, I used to watch rain beetles struggling across puddles of water left after the rain. It would take  ages for a beetle to get back to dry land. Sometimes, one or the other of us would drop a blade of grass into the water and the beetle would instantly seize upon it and use it but blade of grass or no blade of grass, they never gave up.  Their hard shell like backs were this most beautiful glittering blue.

          RAIN BEETLE

Like a blue iridescent rain beetle
Struggling across a puddle of water,
They tried to set up camp
In the middle of an ocean.

Storms battered them,
Winds drowned them,
Sweeping their tent onto the sand
Where they huddled, trembling,
Watching silent movies of people hurrying
Across the canvas.

Sometimes reaching out a hand
To grab an elbow.  And missing.
Sometimes sticking out a foot
To trip the hurrying image up,
Meaning to catch them.  But failing.

Yet the sea was always singing
Of the sunsets it had seen,
Of moonlight glittering,
Of all the places it had been visiting,
But, especially, of how the cold, clear water
Was perfect for paddling.

Until, tiny splash by tiny splash,
Like little iridescent rain beetles
Fearlessly crossing a puddle of water,
They were, at the last, swimming.

                                        © Gwen Grant


 Related image

From my bedroom window, I can see stretches of corn fields and walking on the paths alongside these fields, I can always hear the corn fields whispering.  These whispers sound so private and yet because the sound fills the air, they also seem meant for everyone who is there to listen.

That particular night, which was cool and quiet, leaning on the windowsill, with the yellow moon picking up the gold of the corn, took me back to when I was a girl, helping with the harvest, remembering how those thin golden spears prickled when they came into contact with skin. There was an enchantment there then and it’s still there now.

As I stood there, I thought of cornfields and other fields of grain growing all over the world and it seemed to me that these fields with their precious harvests were as involved with the world as we are.  If that was the case, then, for the first time, I knew that the corn was whispering its love and hope and concern for the world, exactly as we do ourselves.


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


derbyshire winter

After a journey over the Derbyshire hills when Winter itself
seemed to take shape and form, this was how I remembered it.
A place of utter beauty.

                  A DERBYSHIRE WINTER

 Yesterday, we met that great icicled old man, Winter,
Striding across the tops of the Derbyshire peaks,
Flinging furious fists of snow on to the roads,
Stones, dips, hollows and hedgerows.

The hills and fields were bone white,
And white to the bone where he had passed.
Even the bleak and edgy rocks had given in,
Hiding their lovely blackness
Out of sight of the old man’s fury.
For who knew what he would do next? 

Too late!  He’s done it.
That tree standing alone in the emptiness
Should have shown a bit more respect.
Bowed its aching head
Under the snowy crown he had given it,
But somehow it shook the snow off instead.
And that great icicled old man spat spiteful
Gobbets of icy breath across it
Until, for one brief and beautiful moment,
The tree shone and dazzled in the thin sun,
Then broke under the old terror’s icy gift and was gone.  

Oh, winter, you could have pity on us.
You could pity the owl and the crow,
The mouse, the fox, the shrew and the stoat.
You could pity the glancing beauty of the dying fish
Striking up through the frozen water.
But you won’t, will you?
Even though you could afford to.
For such splendour and icy glory,
So enchanting it catches the breath
And causes the heart to fall back,
Will never willingly leave these peaks
To the wind and rumpled grass.
                                            © Gwen Grant



hope 2In this austere and lovely space,
Where the kindly dust
Of close-lived hours falls gently down,
Where memory plays its own cantata
In each one of us,
Song pours out,
Raining down the paved streets and concrete
Of cities,
Drenching the waiting, watchful towns
Until they flower,
Rooting themselves in a torrent of melody.

Living proof that hope can never be extinguished,
That gaiety and gladness will blossom
Over and over again.

                                © Gwen Grant




Either he came along too late,
Or she was born too soon.
Whichever it was,
Those years they had lost
Were wild and wide and gone,
So they had a lot to catch up on.

On both sides,
There were exciting times to talk through.
For each of them,
Desperate days to walk through.
Still, there was plenty to talk about,
Plenty to discover about each other,
Lover to Lover.

So now, all was well and all was well,
For the living was just beginning.
The two of them, together,
Putting time in its place,
Slipping all those lost hours
Into their pockets,
To be remembered only when they felt
Strong enough to face them.

But not now, they decided, not now
And maybe not ever,
Not when the days were shining,
The nights blazing and burning
With no charred mornings to speak of.
Not when a plain old blade of grass
Spoke of heaven,
The heaven that lay in each other
Now time and love were with them,
New Lover loves New Lover.

Old lovers sent to the car wash.

                                          © Gwen Grant