Languishing with a cough, my thoughts went to to the days of freedom when we could all go out and walk in the country. I remembered Nash’s glorious picture of the Moat and ransacked my bookshelves to find a copy of it. Hurry up the days of freedom so we can all look at everything!
THE MOAT IN WINTER
I never saw the moat Like that before. The clear grey water Holding tight the lovely ghost Of Winter Thorn. The thin branched Birch Pushing aside the sky, That the grey moat paths May, as usual, lead the fox Into the dark fields sulking.
Now, whenever I look Into that still water, Whether Spring breezes play Cat and mouse with the sparkling Drops of living silver, Or summer leaves stipple The calm brown surface, That spare and beautiful image of winter Will always be with me, Always be in my watchful eyes.
The blackbird sends Notes of gold Drifting over the garden, Turning colour into music. The singing, Strong and sweet, Calling memories to mind Of sunny days, Of gold touching Thoughtful faces, Of sudden rain On lovely evenings, Of drowsy flowers Dripping melodies From sunlit fingers.
Long blue notes Gathering sparkling reds, yellows, Oranges and sweeping greens Together.
Until the red robin Hustles in, Its fierce and perfect song Scattering everything To the four winds. Plunging a startled world Into a new opera Demanding attention.
The soft sigh Of a butterfly wing, The smoky croak Of a frog in the river, The harsh shout of a crow Adding their own notes Of joy on this golden Summer morning.
We all have our own Gethsemane When times are against us, When, faultless and perfect, Darkness no longer has an airy lightness But falls upon us With the full weight of sorrow.
From Gethsemane there comes always That long walk to the crucifixion of hope, That slow procession into loneliness, That sombre step into a darkness where love Becomes nothing but an old and lovely dream.
Yet that dark garden flames With the resurrection of a living hope, Throwing light into the darkness, Bringing peace to the desolate, Making all love new, Its eternal promise forever redeeming, That where love is, Time no longer has any meaning.
Sometimes, I gather up all the words I love and watch them playing together. It doesn’t do to have favourites, I know that, But who can resist words that sizzle on the page and dance. Some so irresistible whole poems are built around them.
Colours are always delectable, Weaving their way through every get-together. Colour words do, of course, have to be dealt with extremely carefully, As favouring lemon over green Will attract very sharp looks from orange.
Full stops and commas, paragraphs, colons, semi-colons, Little Latin phrases, ‘Et tu, Brutus,’ etcetera, etcetera, And those little raindrop marks that attend every speech, Must all be taken into account But can be missed out altogether if careless of censure. Recommended.
A word of advice. Do not ever forget the numbers family, For if they are ignored or forgotten they get quite vocal, Even a little spiteful and unforgiving.
No! Keep them in sight at all times, Insisting they play nicely. One and one making two, for instance. Otherwise, you can never bring them to order, Even when put into really pleasant columns, They remain difficult and wilful.
But there we are, that’s words and things for you.
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 its greedy companion, loneliness. Snow falling quietly on all the little girls Lying in the snow and icy air.