Scratting about here, in my mind, deep on the base line,
Thinking about past decisions,
Some so disastrous, I’m still living them down.
I wondered if other decisions could have been made.
If there had been other ways forward.
Alternatives hanging around,
Keeping so quiet,
My mind skittered straight past them.
Of course there were alternatives.
I can see them now as clearly
As if they were dressed in moonlight.
Yet I would not change the one I have chosen,
The one with no guarantee of a happy-ever-after ending.
Everyone had an opinion, a snippet of advice
That said I was blind to the obvious and stupid with it
That I would be a long time regretting,
A life time resenting the whole of it.
That’s what they said. Let them say it.
For now all those words are forgotten,
Dry tongues clacking on empty time
Where clocks and promises,
Fears and threats are dead and gone.
But I am here, still full of quiet excitement
And blind to all but the tip of desire,
To all but the calling loveliness of desire and passion.
I went forward as I always meant to,
Nothing could stop me, halt me or deflect me,
For in amongst the darkness,
In amongst the fearful nights,
In amongst the doubts and bitter confusion,
I grasped glory and ran with it to its own conclusion.
To this scratting about in my mind, deep on the base line,
Always glad of that deaf and blind decision.
© GWEN GRANT
When I was a girl, my father kept aviaries of canaries and budgerigars. He loved these little birds and I loved to see them darting about like so many tiny bright arrows. I remember the parrot but it didn’t belong to us and now I have no idea who brought it into the house. I think it must have only been staying for a short time because, apart from this one vivid memory, it was gone. I would translate these birds into bits of writing and even now, when I look at a page, I can still sometimes see golden full stops, exotic blue and green commas and semi-colons and the odd dazzling colour of the exclamation mark!
There were canaries through all those years,
Endlessly flying down the days
Like little golden full stops
At the end of a sentence.
There were budgerigars, too.
Blue and green, chittering and chattering
Like commas or semi-colons
Taming an especially unruly paragraph.
And there was one great question mark of a parrot.
Where did he come from?
Who brought him in?
Sitting wherever he chose,
Staring at us with a cool, sardonic eye.
Shouting and swearing,
‘Shivering his timbers,’
Like some old sea tossed sailor.
Every squawk an exclamation mark on a really
Exciting piece of writing.
But I liked the little wren
Singing in the garden,
Startling the silence
Like a poem.
© Gwen Grant
This poem accompanied one of the paintings that went on exhibition at Southwell Minster. I wrote a poem for each painting and it was so lovely to see them in that beautiful setting. The area they were hung in was a shadowed place with the cool grey stones and tall columns making it seem eternal.
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
Your avalanche of lemon light and tender light
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 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.
© Gwen Grant
We have a national park close to us which is a thing of beauty and which contains such loveliness, you have to make yourself go home. The park is on old ground and standing on it, there is that eternal feeling of all that has gone before and all that will come in the future. This park seems to include the sky as part of its sheer loveliness.
THE PROPHET AT MY ELBOW
Early Winter, and the geese are sailing
In a long straight line down the river,
Not knowing where they are going
But going, anyway,
Turning at the curve then coming back.
By their side, the wind is puffing up
Little drops of sunny water.
And as if the prophet was standing by me,
I became aware of the immense blue vault of the heavens.
Through the light of day, saw the hidden night,
With one star blazing brighter than all the others.
My feet were firm on solid ground,
Yet beneath them, I saw mountains biding their time,
Deserts flowering, and lights of cities not yet built all shining,
And the prophet, standing at my elbow, whispered,
‘Here is loveliness beyond all telling.’
Mid-winter, and the geese are sailing
In a long straight line down the river.
Their angry little eyes a snapping song of reluctant praise
To the love that made them.
And the prophet, standing at my elbow, whispered
Of the steadfast love and hope that lives in all creation.
© Gwen Grant