LITTLE GIRLS LYING IN THE SNOW AND ICY AIR
In that hour of the afternoon,
Quiet and bare, the leaves having long since fallen,
The woods set firm, thick and heavy,
Sending shape and shadow creeping towards us,
My friend lay in the bunk next to mine
And I watched her.
Watched the bunk slowly topple over,
Saw her black hair suddenly veiled with blossom,
A slow and icy blossom of snow,
Touching her closed eyes, restless and flickering
Under their thin brown skin covering.
I could not breathe for fear but fell beside her,
Lying there, watching her, anxiously whispering.
I could not move until they picked her up,
Gathering her to them like a fallen flower,
A crumpled petal. Carrying her away.
Now the wicked woods shook with laughter,
Bare branches creaking with loss,
And loneliness, that greedy companion.
Snow falling quietly on all the little girls
Lying in the snow and icy air.
© Gwen Grant
These Tulips are a dazzle
Of tethered sunshine,
Silky lemon petals trembling
In the slow moving air.
Bowing to each other,
Bending low to the waiting room
Their stems gently curving,
Lifting the green and lovely leaves
That we might see
The fabulous hidden life
Waiting for us all.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
Easter Sunday – when I was a girl, all the children wen to Sunday school, the girls
with new candy striped dresses, white ankle socks and black patent leather shoes and the boys in short grey trousers and new shirts with a sleeveless pullover. I loved my candy striped dress, sometimes pink, sometimes green. Happy Easter Sunday.
AND WHEN NIGHT COMES
And when night comes
And darkness drifts over the earth
And fields vanish
And hedgerows become blurs of colour,
And the falling frost
Lays a bridal veil on the darkened grass,
And the lovely trees,
And all trees are lovely,
Fill the darkness with their magnificence
And their little inked-in leaves
Chuckle and rustle and whisper of the love
Shown for us in the drenching beauty of the night,
And the thin, thin beam of moonlight
Shines down like hope shining
Through the darkness of all those lost lives,
Well, then, that anxious heart
Staring through the midnight glass
Should find rest.
But those ears are deaf,
Those eyes blind to the radiance of the night,
Seeing only the darkness of the hour,
And then, for it is then, the frightened,
The fractured heart cries aloud,
‘O God, my God, where are you?’
And as the dying echoes of those trembling sounds
Vanish into the vanished fields
And sink into the blurry hedgerows,
The little inked-in leaves rustle and chuckle
And whisper those eternal words of love.
‘I am the light to your darkness,
I am the hope to your despair.
I am the peace to your pain.
I am the love you can rest on.’
© Gwen Grant
A NIGHT AT THE PUB
Mario Lanza began to sing
And from a far corner of the crowded room,
Another Mario joined in.
Another and another,
Until the whole place rang
With song and laughter.
Then, in his far corner, Elvis stood,
Quietly singing of love and loss,
Singing of a real reality
Until, one by one, they all fell silent.
Even the drunks hushed their slurred words,
Listening to a song of loss and loneliness
So intense, life meant nothing.
The Bar was silent, breathless with memory
As Elvis sang, and when he was done,
Mario began again.
And beer was passed from Bar to drinker.
Someone ordered a cheeky Campari,
With bright red cherry and a paper umbrella.
Whoa! Hold the soda.
Night pressed against the Pub’s lit windows,
But no-one wanted to go,
To be swallowed by the darkness,
Wanted only to stay here in the mad brightness,
Listening to the singing,
Listening to the daft loons laughter,
Gulping Lager in the corner
And watch the girls swinging
On the tiny, tiny dance floor.
Dancing as if dancing could conquer
The songs they were hearing.
As if being young could conquer everything.
Strange to meet Mario and Elvis here,
Two bony young fellows singing to the drunk and to the sober,
Singing to drown or lighten the drinker’s sorrows.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
WHEN YOU WERE HERE
When you were here
There were hollyhocks in the garden.
Your shadow passed the house,
Stopping before the red lights
Of the Station crossing.
I saw you everywhere then.
The flap of your coat round a distant corner,
Your green shirt adding a leaf
To the darkness of a familiar tree.
In your buttonhole you wore a bright red poppy,
Those blazing flowers that now I give to you
As once you gave to me.
Still I see you.
There is no road, no court, no turning in this town
That does not carry the imprint of your sandalled foot.
No fence, no wall, no plot that does not hold
The memory of your dark and curious eyes.
When you came home after the war was over,
You carried me around this town upon your shoulder,
Until I, too, recognised each old leaf and stone
And your friend’s faces I knew almost as I knew your own.
But now you’re gone,
And all those things you taught and told me,
Which were as close to me as my blood,
Have faded in the bleaching touch of our lost sun,
Except my knowledge of you,
And of your love.
© 2019 Gwen Grant