All material on this blog is copyright but if anyone wants to use part of it, then please get in touch. http://www.gwengrant.co.uk
Growing older and having survived cancer at 40, a long time ago, certainly focuses the mind on the future and I was very aware of this when I wrote the poem FUTURE TENSE. I've always loved writing and still remember the excitement of the first longer piece of work I did. It was very experimental and I was certain it wouldn't get published. It probably wouldn't have but one of the small magazines, who did such great work for new writers, took that piece and many others. But that wasn't all they did. With infinite kindness, they often pointed out where I could improve my writing.
My first book was a picture book, MATTHEW AND HIS MAGIC KITE, but after that, I started wanting to capture the humour and interest of where I lived, so PRIVATE-KEEP OUT came next followed by KNOCK AND WAIT and ONE WAY ONLY. They're not biographies because all I wanted to do was to catch the spirit of those times.
It would be good if everyone wrote an account of their lives so their times are not lost. So many valuable histories unwritten and unread.
When I was a girl, I loved the American writer, BETTY MACDONALD, with her very funny accounts of her family and her life in the 1940's. But NORMAN MAILER's, 'THE NAKED AND THE DEAD' spun me up to the stars when I stumbled across it in the subscription library I belonged to at fifteen. ERNEST HEMINGWAY's 'CHRISTMAS IN PARIS 1923', was so sublime and beautiful it was like a torch for writers and the Toronto Star Weekly must have published it with joy in their hearts. I wonder if there still is a Toronto Star Weekly?
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, Uncomfortable, uneasy. Make them more forgiving, Sweeter, perhaps, 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.
The wise woman rises early, Stepping into clean, fresh clothes, Pulling on her lovely crease-free trousers, Her unwrinkled Tee clinging neatly to her shoulders, Her shoes so sparkling clean and pretty, Even the flowers admire them.
‘Bye!’ calls the wise woman, As she goes singing on her way, Everyone making room for her.
The tired woman rises far too late, That extra five minutes somehow getting away from her. And look! The clothes fairy hasn’t been! So she wears crumpled Tee and wrinkled trousers. Her shoes so dusty and dull Even the flowers try to hide them.
No ‘Bye!’ from this tired woman, As she goes yawning on her way.
But the wise woman makes room for her, For tired tomorrow, wise today.
There they are, Sheaves of hay lying in the fields Like golden Lovers, Waiting for sunrise, Waiting for the sun’s warmth To cradle their tired heads. Make soft shadows of eyelashes Lying quiet against their faces.
Don’t wake them, Let them rest. For over the thorn hedge In the next field waiting, Winter rests on its elbow, Frosty fingers all set To kill summer stone dead.
Here comes the sun. Time enough now to shake their shoulders Before the frost gets close enough to touch them.
The artist is a liar About painting only what he sees In front of him. Slick lies of seduction slipping from his lips, Falling from his tongue, Like leaves falling from a wintered tree. He tells so many lies It’s a wonder he doesn’t go blind.
That naked breast she offers On fingers thin and sharp as boning knives Is not offered for free. Painting the aureole so dark Only the juice of damsons could create Such a full, rich, bruising.
This dance hall dame, remote and lethal, Puts no value on any part of her body. It’s all for sale For a wad of the folding stuff.
The artist rhapsodised about her hair, Her eyes, her implacable face. But no-one on earth could mistake That sullen, knowing mouth For the mouth of a woman Who has given in to seduction.
I’ll say! That’s the mouth of a woman Keeping her trap shut And counting the money.
The artist is a liar, Telling so many lies It’s a wonder he doesn’t go blind. Certain that this painting is so beautiful People will fight to have it on their wall.
When, all the time, he knows he has painted Her ancient and watchful soul, All bandaged about with suffering.