If only we could sing that song again,
The dispossessed said to their reflection.
You know, the one about a shed, a house, a home.
A shelter we could call our own,
A safe place to live in.
Though, obviously, that’s not happening.
Still, opening their mouths,
They began to sing with a bit of a quaver,
About a home.
That place where the poet said
They had to let you in.
‘Not in our experience,’ the refugees sighed.
Then fell silent, considering.
Which, frankly, didn’t change a thing
For there was only a handful listening.
Still they keep on singing.
©2019 Gwen Grant
The dark red dahlias seem always to be the last flower to give in to the onset of winter with their big shaggy heads, firm stems and dark strong leaves, yet often when they have given up, one small daisy appears, sometimes even with pink tingeing their tiny petals, as if in complete defiance of the frost.
This garden is in retreat,
Dark red dahlias heralding the end.
Yesterday’s dreams already lying down
With their heads on the pillow.
A hard frost killed the pale roses.
But this garden acknowledges no retreat,
Defiantly flowering one final daisy.
Today’s dreams already on their toes,
Waiting to get a move on.
©2019 Gwen Grant
Watching the sudden seagulls in the garden, I wondered what brought them here as we are miles from any seawater. We have had a lot of flooding water but they’re not interested in that. Perhaps it seems a more sympathetic environment but I think if they stayed too long, the magpies would gang up on them. A foggy, wet November afternoon with seagulls like snowflakes.
ALWAYS OUT THERE
Those seagulls in our garden
Are a long way from water.
Doing what we all do, I suppose,
Looking for a future
Just a little bit better.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
We bought two bunches of wallflower plants from the market, not expecting to see any flowers until next Spring. But they’re all blooming. My Dad was a keen gardener and a good one and he would have been totally amazed by this. But I remember the winters when I was a girl were bitterly cold and snowy so no flowers at all then. Only ice flowers on the water in the old quarry.
WALLFLOWERS IN NOVEMBER
The old gardeners would never have
Not wallflowers in November.
Why, that would have been against all the
laws of nature,
Yet, here they are,
Smiling into the crisp November morning.
Their velvet yellow petals
Reminding the cold air of Spring,
Their dark reds almost bringing alive
The sultry sweetness of summer.
One glance is enough to reveal
The energy of those glorious flowers,
Enough to set the world on fire,
More than enough to put bitter frost in
its bitter place,
No killing will ever happen here.
Wallflowers in November can do that.
Their petals scent the days
Even when the trees are dying,
Giving lie to all those stories
Of life and death endings.
Laying claim, once for all, to no endings here.
Just wallflowers in November.
©2019 Gwen Grant
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.
© 2018 Gwen Grant
One of my favourite things is walking. I used to walk a lot at night, loving the darkness and the way the world changed in the fields and hedgrows. This was an encounter with a poacher. They were such silent and still men when they heard anyone coming, so they could frighten the wits out of you when you spotted them.
That night, when I was out,
Walking the frozen fields,
He was the only stranger,
Standing still as a death stone
Under the oak tree,
Switching on his head lamp
Only when I was past.
Blinding me and the rabbit,
Blinding me and the hare.
And I wondered if this was the time
Me and the pheasant,
The deer and the rabbit,
The cunning old fox and the hare
Would all lie down together
In the white and frosted furrows,
To lie there for ever.
For I had seen the Poacher,
By dint of old and wicked country magic
Of Deadly Nightshade and of Henbane,
Leap into the sky above us.
His head lamp shining away
Every shadow that would save us.
Until I looked again and saw
The Poacher’s moon.
©2019 Gwen Grant