MIDNIGHT WALK

      Walking through the dark trees,
      My steps sending little puffs of dust
      Over the small curling ferns crouching.
     The faint shine of a white petal
     Breaks through the intense darkness,
     Until a sudden throw of moonlight
     Brings the pale anemones,
     The golden celandine,
     Into perfect life on the woodland floor.

     I hear the soft shuffling of birds in their nests,
     Heads tucked under their wings,
     Deeply sleeping.
     Then the tiny bubbling of water running
     Down the little, half-hidden stream,
     Throwing the odd diamond drop
     Onto the yellow primrose.

     Here, small brown creatures
     Slip in and out of the freezing water,
     Icy, from the still snow laden hills so faraway
     This wood never thinks of them.
     Nor do we, until, we, too, are frozen.

     Out of the trees, onto the edge of the fields
     That stretch into the darkness,
     The small growings rustling an excited invitation
     To walk the night
     Over ploughed earth and stony frost sparkling
     To the far wood, which magic is held to own.
     But I turn back, not ready to meet a veiled magician
     Of spite, dead things and stagnant water.
     And the trees swallow me
     As a shadow is swallowed by darkness.

     Now the wood shakes itself,
     The trees whispering of this returned presence
    Walking their quiet and mossy paths.
     And I turn for home,
     To the lovely fragrance of wild roses
     In the hedgerows.

                                    © Gwen Grant


You never should have fallen in love,
Never touched those lips with your trembling mouth
Nor mingled your breath with a breath not your own,
Until, breathless, you were brought down by desire.
Blinded by love,
Your eyes burnt out
By that implacable face staring at you,
Pulling you down
With its deadly understanding
Of your sick passion.
And you, refusing to see it mocked you.
There was always some confection of delight
Waiting to engage you.
Some new trick to disarm and enchant you.  
A decorative something
To hold on to. To plan.  To cling to.
As well put a snowflake on hot iron
For nothing could save you.
Lovers are lost
When one lover no longer loves,
And the other lives on yesterday’s passion.
                                                 © Gwen Grant



Yesterday, 11th November, was Armistice Day in this country and I put up a poem for that day.  The flower in this poem I saw en route to Scotland on a day thick with frost and the first flakes of snow falling.  As we waited at the side of the road to move on, I saw it, deep in a patch of woodland where every flower and leaf was fighting to survive.         


On the edge of winter
Where the pale-lit leaves
All frail and flimsy
Lift the trees above the sullen darkness,
Leaving bare their winter branches,
There, where burdock and spiteful bramble,
No longer green but cold and seamed
With bitter leaves
Warm their feet in the dark earth,
In the roots that wind and curl into the darkness
Hard by the yellow matted grasses,
The bleached and bone-white tussocks
Dying, dying, all sad and weary. 

There, on the edge of winter,
Lying in the frosty sparkle,
I saw the bold, bright petal of a winter flower
Defeat the darkness
With life and hope and love and passion.

                                 ©Gwen Grant


poppies memorial

Every year on the 11th day of November, at the eleventh hour, we remember all those who have died or been physically or mentally injured in war.  We remember, too, all those who have been caught up in violence, who have trembled with pain, wept with sorrow and grieved for the pain and loss of those they love.  The poppy is the symbol of remembrance.


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


When I was 12 years old, I decided I would walk to the end of a rainbow, find the gold and we could all live happily ever after.  Several hours later, too tired to take another step, the rainbow as far away as ever and fading fast, I headed back home.  I found something on that expedition, though, as I’ve never forgotten it.


rainbow 2


All life exists
At the end of a rainbow.
Witches on broomsticks,
A Knight in shining armour.

I don’t really think so.
The last time I looked,
There was only a crumble of dirt,
A grain of corn,
A rain beetle struggling through the leaf mould.

Still, we build
What we can
With what’s to hand.

                                          © Gwen Grant