This is a house of ghosts,
Moonlight painting their shadows on the walls.
That one, just above the picture rail
Eats spiders; blows moths out of windows.
The other one lounges on top of the skirting board,
Playing a long game of patience,
Totting up my birthdays,
Sending mean, sidelong glances, warning me
Not to knock the wood with the heel of my shoe,
Otherwise, what birthdays I have left, will all come together.
Sometimes, these shadows go too far,
Peering round the doors of whichever room I am in.
Curious to see what I am doing,
Keeping an eye on me,
Their narrow yellow eyes gleeful when they catch me
planning a future.
I don’t know who these shadows are.
If only I knew their names
I could gather them all together,
Push them into the late-flowering dahlias,
And lock the door behind them.
For as long as they are here,
They are impatient for me to join them.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
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.
© 2019 GWEN GRANT
THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW
That long dirty road
Washed by rain,
Shines now in the lamplight.
Running down each side,
Are stubborn in their silence,
Pitiless in their blankness.
No-one is out tonight,
No footsteps echoing through the quiet air,
Just lonely eyes
Looking through bare and dusty windows,
Wishing someone would walk by.
Perhaps even turn in at the gate.
Step inside for a chat and a cup of coffee.
But that never happens.
The kettle stays cold,
The biscuits put back
In the tin.
And the china cup and saucer
With the little silver spoon,
Carefully replaced in the cupboard.
Tonight the armchair
Pulled up to the fire
There’s always tomorrow.
©2019 Gwen Grant
Aconites shower colour onto the grass,
Their gleaming petals lying gold
Against the faded silver of petals past.
Bright as summer, they blossom.
Bright as false promises of a brilliant future.
At the bottom of the fields, the stream
Leaps like a lamb over brown stones
Lying on the river bed.
It’s here that in the dusk,
The bats play Tag in the scented air
And through this clear water,
Fish flirt with the rising moon.
This is middle England.
A land of spell and myth,
Where corn fields roll over roads,
Fly up hills
And plunge reckless to the valley.
Within memory of men around here,
Within memory of women’s hands
Beating coal dust out of clothing,
Pitheads were sewn into this land,
Tall pit wheels standing
Like slivers of jet in the land around them.
Lovely ships anchored to a soft horizon,
Floating over tree tops.
Now these ships of the earth’s core
Their blackened docks,
Their ugly quaysides destroyed.
They were majestic,
Like the Queens of the ocean,
Lit from stem to stern with pinpoints
Will it all go?
Aconites, river, hill and valley.
We weep for what has already gone.
Let the trees stay,
Let those old forest remnants
Give bone to the earth,
Joining bone to loved bone.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
FROM BEING SMALL…..
We know that if the years have taught
us one thing.
It is this.
That unless there is love,
The words of the weak
Will be written in tears
On the windows of the world.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
Early in the morning
When the mist comes rolling in from the fields,
And the queer little ghosties
Come riding and writhing within it,
Sometimes leaping the battered old fence,
Other times sneaking through the holes
In the lacy broken wood,
Crossing the garden like smoke,
Coming to rest under the apple tree,
It is then I see their long grey fingers
Reaching through the leaves,
Winding around the shining apples
As if to pluck them from the branch and eat them,
And by eating, gain life.
But then the Autumn sun slides
Into the garden behind them,
Patting the twinkling shadows
Into tiny shapes of apple and leaf,
Weaving the winking apples into its sunny fingers,
Swallowing the mist and the little creeping ghosties,
Dusting those green, green apples with a flush of rosiness.
Neither pen, nor film, nor brush, nor quill
Can catch their utter loveliness.
No, all that can be done
Is to pick and hold and taste their glory,
Whilst the birds, the goats,
And the horse in the paddock
Who leans its head over the dead Philadelphus,
Over the tiny ghosties hiding in the dying flowers,
All hold back to await another apple morning.
© 2018 Gwen Grant
Hopscotch isn’t a game,
It’s a science,
A mathematical challenge,
An exercise into just how far
Your stone will slide
Over those ten squares
Stretching into infinity.
Most important of all
Is the application of logic,
To determine if this
Is an exercise in futility
Or if you have at last learnt to hop,
And stand on one leg.
© 2017 GWEN GRANT