SAIL AWAY TO NOWHERE

little boat on sea

I love the sea, so I have always been very fond of this Norse myth of red monkeys under the ocean feeding iron bars to the serpent.  They did this because when the world was made it was too heavy, so the serpent was given the task of coiling around it to keep it together.  However,  the serpent would get hungry so the red monkeys were given the chore of feeding it iron bars to stop it uncoiling in search of food, as that would have been disastrous!

    SAIL AWAY TO NOWHERE

Little boat
On the horizon
Sailing away to nowhere

Rough winds
Send you skirling
Across impatient waters

Fiery suns
Smash colour rainbows
Into the roaring silence

Darkening skies
Threaten spiteful rain
To savage and to sink you

Under the ocean
Red monkeys feed iron bars
To the world’s serpent

Respect the serpent
Whose coils save the world
From abrupt and violent ending

Little boat, come home
Steer quietly into safe harbour
Where I am always waiting

To sail away to nowhere.

                          © Gwen Grant

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SPRING TO WINTER

scissor grinder

When I was a girl, the winters were ferocious and none more so than the 1946/47 winter.  The street I lived in was a small street with no more than about a half dozen houses down each side.  Every house, or so it seemed to me, had a polished table in their front room and over that table was a chenille cloth.  Our cloth was red with bobbles hanging all round it.  I only have to close my eyes to remember the thick rich feel of that cloth and I don’t have to do anything to remember my sister.

                       SPRING TO WINTER

              The world goes round in tight circles
              As I have always known it would.
              Its intention always to go
              From Spring to Winter
              In one breath.

              When I was first tall enough
              To see over the table top,
              The bobbled red chenille cloth
              Cherried in my fingers,
               I learnt then of dying,
              For in my house that winter
              Our Spring baby died.

             That snow pulsed afternoon,
             The old scissor-grinder, out-lighted,
             Stood under the gas lamp
             Stoning blades of knife and scythe and scissor,
             Sparks spinning from his wheel
             As if that winter day was Carnival.

             I ran from him,
            Snowflakes melting my eyes
            As I wept for my sister,
            Suddenly afraid of the scythe
            And afraid of the scissor.

                              © Gwen Grant

THE SCHOOL I WAS SENT TO

oakbankgirlsward-edit

Impossible as it seems now, in the late 1940’s when I was a child, I was sent to an Open Air School 300 and more miles from where I lived.  We slept in wards with windows wide open every night and had a routine which was totally, utterly foreign to me.  However, because of that school, I’m still here to tell the tale!

   THE SCHOOL I WAS SENT TO

The first time I saw the school I had been sent to,
I thought it was a school for witches,
For the great house leaning against the forest
Was dark as night.
With only its snaggle toothed windows blazing in the moonlight.

Of course, it wasn’t a school for witches.
They only visited.
Swooping in through the open tops of windows
On their broomsticks,
Trying to make out they were the shadows of trees.
Bumping to a stop in the middle of the dormitory,
Where nothing could move them.

Nothing, that is, until Sister Sweet came crackling in,
All fiery with starch and bad temper.
Her purple hands so big, entire cities were built on her palms.
She made them shift.
The only thing I ever had Sister Sweet to thank for,
In the whole year I spent at that school I was sent to.

                                                                     © GWEN GRANT

BLUE TIME IN SPRING TIME

bluebells & dandelions

  BLUE TIME IN SPRING TIME

Walking over them, I half expected to fall
Into the great blue gaiety of a perfect sunny sky,
For the small blue flowers, no bigger than a grain of corn,
Were blue stars under my feet, their eternal beauty
Starring this world through the tender hand of love. 

There is a deep tenderness in this wood, a deep love,
For here the purple flower, there, the red.
Now a creamy bank of butter yellow blossom gleaming
in the shadows,
Delighting, enchanting, lifting up to their own joyful gaiety
All those who walk under the dappling leaves.
The trees themselves swaying with delighted laughter
At this sunny celebration.

Beyond the blue flowers,
Beyond the pale grey stone and faded tags of leafy gold,
A fish leaps up through the sunlit water,
Glittering blue against the brown washed banks of the lake
drying in the morning sun,
And a swan glides by in slow, grave beauty. 

Down this path the dandelion, that shock headed golden
explosion,
Almost touches the red petals of a heavy blossomed tree,
A tiny goldfinch darting amongst them.
In the distance, a flash of blue as a jay flies to a far horizon.
Whilst a rich darkness shows up the blue black crow.
The squirrel pauses on its tiny orange feet
And the drake flies low, a dash of iridescent blue.
Then the blowing leaves whirl their tiny shadows under the trees
And the blue wash of bluebells turns the forest floor into a
dark blue sea. 

And in a thousand, thousand places,
In the bramble and in the thorn,
In the dark silhouette of twigs lying flush against the blue sky,
In the fallen flowers lying on the grass,
In the purple and the red and the water floating blue.
The blue bells ring this steady proof of love. 

                                                       ©GWEN GRANT

CIRCLING ROUND

fireworks

                       CIRCLING ROUND                                       

 Sometimes lovers are surprised
By their own ardent fire,
Scorched by the ferocity of the flame
Blazing in them.
Until, flying too close to this new sun,
They are wrecked and wounded by rejection.

But lovers wind the thin linen of consolation
Around a damaged heart.
Forgiving unfulfilled promises,
Waiting it out.
Sure the beloved will ease their pain,
Turn back to them.

For this is the love they have waited for.
So no wound, mortal or easeful,
Will ever wrest it from them.
Nothing will stop their suffering,
For pain is part of love’s package,
And lovers drown in desire
Until desire destroys them.

Lost love is a bad dream,
Rejected love, a nightmare.
Only when the ecstasy burns out,
The flame turns to ash, the fire to cinders,
And the old love done with,
Can a new and g
lorious passion begin. 

                                    © Gwen Grant