I saw this hat in a shop and tried it on. It instantly looked as if the hat was wearing me instead of the other way round, reminding me of the fateful time I once had a hat that was attacked by a small dog, who wouldn’t let it go until it was sure it had killed it. I still see versions of the hat in the poem and inevitably try them on with the same result. I really wish I could wear that hat instead of that hat wearing me.
This hat demands
Someone with a strong personality
To stand under its brim.
Someone who always walks
Down the middle of the pavement.
Who only ever patronises
High class establishments
Selling hats of good breeding.
This hat wants someone
Who always carries an umbrella.
Who never ducks into the nearest Pub
For strong drink and a bag of crisps
To sustain them, and who would never
Hang this hat on the back of a chair
To be attacked by a small Pomeranian.
After that, this hat felt so ill-used and abused
It demanded a new owner.
Very well! If you insist!
But you just wait and see.
You’ll not get very far without me.
Obviously, the hat shrugged its brim,
Clearly didn’t believe a thing I had to say.
Calmly murmured that from here on in,
It would make its own way.
The last I saw of that very superior hat,
It was waltzing out of the door
On a very superior head.
Hmmm. Pure luck of the draw, I said.
© Gwen Grant
BITTER FROST TO SUNSHINE
All these years, we have lived
With lies as light as thistledown
In our minds.
Memories of those times
We broke with love
Bringing a sad remembrance.
Turning sunshine to frost
In an instant.
These are the memories
We want to polish up.
The ones that make us sad,
Make them more forgiving,
As if they had never happened
In the way we remember.
But we know enough to understand
No good ever came
Of turning memories into lies,
No matter how much
We may want to lie or be lied to.
In that dark time, then,
When we can no longer find
Forgiveness in ourselves,
When thistledown lies
Weigh heavy upon us,
Offer them up.
Offer up those memories,
Just as they are.
Offer up those times
We have not loved.
Offer them all up,
Trusting and safe in our trust
That Love itself
Will take each sorry heart,
Turn bitter frost to sunshine.
© Gwen Grant
At this time of year, there are lots of flower festivals all over the world. It’s been so hot here, the roses and Sweet Peas are glorious, as are the gladioli, those tall, statuesque flowers of lovely colours.
When I was a child, my mother, brothers and I would go into the pea fields to pick the garden peas. It was hot and dusty work and I would often sneak away and build a pea house out of the long pea straws. The lorry would come at 5.30 in the morning to take us to the pea fields and we would trail out to it, still sleepy from bed, to be bounced to our work.
The day we couldn’t smell the roses
It was almost cold,
And the flowers were standing around
Long green stems shining.
Men and women were putting those roses
Into a Catherine wheel of colour,
And in a far corner
Where there was cool shadow,
Children were pinning rosebuds
Into a cushion.
Yet still we couldn’t smell them.
But as we stood there
Eating our marmite sandwiches,
Sunshine suddenly leapt through the tall windows,
And as if someone had pressed a plunger
The whole room exploded
With warmth and scent and colour.
Then we could smell the roses.
Lately, poppies are in the fields,
Beaming amongst the yellow corn,
Smiling in the tall tangle
Of wayward grasses and nubs of moody ragwort
In the hedgerows.
Careless, it seems, of the close threat
Of the dark, the bitter nettle,
Crowding their calm loveliness.
When rain comes, the nettle rejoices
As those lovely heads are beaten into the dust.
For a while, all seems lost,
Until they rise again.
Their scarlet pennants trembling
In the powerful forces ranged against them.
Trembling, yet standing firm.
Frail and beautiful, their petals
A flick of red on the painted air.
Beautiful and frail, as are all who stand guard
Against the nettled strength waiting its chance
To crush that which is fragile.
Yet the nettle has always misjudged the poppy,
Seeing only its frailty,
Blind to its endurance.
And this world is full of poppies
Shining their bright and lovely defiance
Into every place where darkness seeks dominion,
Their crimson glory forever seeding the earth with hope.
© Gwen Grant
Late one evening, we were heading North and we came upon this little
neglected wood at the side of the very quiet road we were travelling on. In all
the darkness around us, this wood suddenly shone out.
IN A DARK WOOD
I saw the light of heaven today
In a dark wood that ran alongside
An old road leading nowhere.
It was around that hour
When the last flare of sun has gone,
So that only darkness was expected.
Darkness, frost and a few delicate,
Bitter drifts of snow
Butting up against the lost leaves.
Yet, rounding the corner,
That golden light took me by surprise,
For it set the whole wood shining.
Turning the dot-dash-dazzle
Of snowdrops and the yellow celandine
Into a quilted splendor.
The tall candles of frosty trees
Lighting all the little pathways.
This is the amazing thing,
This pure loveliness is all for us,
A winter gift of love.
But the grace of love has always been
To bring light to a darkness
That would otherwise engulf us.
© Gwen Grant