A MINUTE AFTER MIDNIGHT
The world is dressing already
For a day of loveliness.
New dreams poised to take over
From all the old dreams
Frayed at the edges.
Hope patching the tattered pieces
Until you can’t even see the join.
© 2020 Gwen Grant
Lucy Mangan – The Guardian Online – Books for children
to read at this difficult time, include my ‘PRIVATE-KEEP OUT!’
where she says ‘..a book that has kept me laughing from the age
of ten and throughout the three and a half decades since..’ It would
give me great happiness to know that, through all the current
difficulties, my book still makes children laugh.
I saw this hat in a shop and tried it on. It instantly looked as if the
hat was wearingme instead of the other way round, reminding me
of the fateful time I once had a hat that was attacked by a small dog,
who wouldn’t let it go until it was sure it had killed it. I still see
versions of the hat in the poem and inevitably try them on with the
same result. I really wish I could wear that hat instead of that hat
This hat demands
Someone with a strong personality
To stand under its brim.
Someone who always walks
Down the middle of the pavement.
Who only ever patronises
High class establishments
Selling hats of good breeding.
This hat wants someone
Who always carries an umbrella.
Who never ducks into the nearest Pub
For strong drink and a bag of crisps
To sustain them, and who would never
Hang this hat on the back of a chair
To be attacked by a small Pomeranian.
After that, this hat felt so ill-used and abused
It demanded a new owner.
Very well! If you insist!
But you just wait and see.
You’ll not get very far without me.
Obviously, the hat shrugged its brim,
Clearly didn’t believe a thing I had to say.
Calmly murmured that from here on in,
It would make its own way.
The last I saw of that very superior hat,
It was waltzing out of the door
On a very superior head.
Hmmm. Pure luck of the draw, I said.
© 2018 Gwen Grant
The air was bitter last night, coming from the far North,
Farther north than the top of this small island,
On, out and beyond to Russia, to the Russian Steppes,
That fabulous name I once heard on the lips of my father.
Its frosty winter wind swirling over us, skirts full of wolves and ice,
Mountains and grasslands and unimaginable fables.
This is a place whose very name freezes my fingers,
Makes a wild untidy nest of my frozen hair,
As if those immense mountains of light and shadow,
Of frost and ice were reaching down to touch me
Standing in the top hallway in the soft light of the night light,
Unable to sleep, unable to caress the darkness,
Bare feet cold on the white wooden floor.
The Russian Steppes love me. I know it. I have never been there
But what does that matter when I know them and they know me,
Waiting patiently, stormily, for my lightest call, coming to wherever I am.
Great mountains and meadows, silver waters and frozen valleys
Crash over the world in their haste to be at my side.
My fingers tremble as I pull rocks out of the path of glittering waters.
Fold one mountain over another, counterpane them with love.
A sudden car rolling up the street nudges me. Time to sleep.
But before I go, I put those remote and perfect mountains
In my garden, tucking them into the empty fields,
Warming their craggy toes in oak tree and willow,
Watching their aristocratic faces until they put on misty crowns
And fade away, my love travelling with them.
This is one love affair that will never be over.
© 2020 Gwen Grant
As a girl, we lived in a small row of terraced housing on an equally small street with other equally small streets around us, right on the cusp of the country. Round the corner of our street was a row of houses with an alley set in between them. I hated going into this alley but the old woman in the end house, right at the bottom, sold odd bits of things, like a cupful of sugar, a jug of milk, a slice of cheese, and every time I went, I was convinced she was a witch, a magician, and I certainly watched my manners when I was stood at her door.
CAGED LINNET SINGING
I was always afraid of gypsy alley,
Where, outside the last house
A Linnet in a cage sang its little melodies.
Standing on the doorstep, too frightened to move,
I handed over the coins to pay
For the mashing of black tea I had been sent for,
All the while listening to that little bird singing,
Each note pure as a flower,
Perfect as the seashell in my pocket.
Yet I was glad when a twist of paper,
Tea safely folded in, was pushed into my fingers.
‘I like your Linnet,’ I whispered, and the tough old face,
Beaten into a teak sculpture by the sun, hardened,
Beaky nose and beaky eyes becoming the Linnet,
The gypsy magician singing my terrified feet
Down the dark alley and onto the street.
Now, in my bed, candle long since blown out,
Quiet under the starry darkness,
I can hear the gypsy witch singing,
Her Linnet wings fluttering against the window.
©2020 Gwen Grant
With all its tenderness,
Turns us all
Gently blowing the dust of years
From the site of yesterday.
Sometimes finding the splendours
Of Carter’s Tutankhamen,
Sometimes bringing to light
A tiny twist of yellow gold,
Its brightness hidden from invaders.
We read books that tell us
How to discover each other.
One mystery sliding alongside another.
Two historians coming together,
Compiling a definitive account
Of their life and times.
You know what?
A hand reaching out for a hand,
A smile answering a smile
Breaks it all down
To where any Lover could build a castle,
Or a small shed if wanted,
With a water feature on the patio.
The oceans of the world
Lapping the edge of the garden.
© 2019 Gwen Grant
We saw this hedgerow on an evening run when we were in Scotland for a few days. It was so beautiful, it made me want to do a Sound of Music and run through it barefoot!
Such hedgerows were common when I was young and we would gather a couple of cornflowers and penny moons but leave the ragwort alone for it has a harsh scent to it.
They don’t last long but a tiny bunch of these flowers in one of the old glass milk bottles looked lovely.
DUSK IN LATE SPRING
That evening, the country road
Was a deep soft grey
Where nothing could be properly seen,
Only the lovely shadows of bush and tree
And the soft blue haze of cornflowers
Studding the hedgerow.
A moment of joy.
Then the intermittent dull gold
Of the ragwort,
Lifting sudden head and shoulders
Over the pale penny moons.
The whole so beautiful,
That little country road
Will live with me for ever.
©2020 Gwen Grant
At my brother’s funeral last Monday, I thought of all the years we had shared and
of our shared happiness and sorrows. My eldest brother died last year and Dina
died two years ago.
In some far flung corner
We wait in silence
For darkness to separate us.
Already, it has taken
Those we could not bear to lose.
And like a spoilt child
Who will not pass the ball,
Darkness never gives them back.
Our tears seem useless,
Yet, every tear proves
The continued existence
© 2020 Gwen Grant