THE CORNFIELDS AT PRAYER
So the long cool night begins
And through the quiet darkness
I thought I heard the corn stalks talk
Of all the whispered night-time prayers
Drifting over the fields,
Setting the corn to its own prayer whispering.
Then I heard the corn stalks talk
Of all the little living prayers.
The lovely hares leaping
And the small creatures seeking
The bread of life in the earth beneath them,
And quiet lovers walking the poppied grasses,
Breathing promises and prayers
Into the listening darkness.
I know I heard the corn stalks talk
Of the old traditions of hay-making and stooking,
Of sowing and reaping,
Of the laughter of bare armed innocents driven to distraction
By those thin shining spears prickling and stippling,
Until they almost longed to leave
The praying cornfields whispering.
I expect, though, that the corn stalks talk
Of different things
On the bleak plains of grief, for instance,
Or on the long shades of despair,
Taking for their own the bone bare prayer
Of the suffering heart bleeding into the suffering air.
All is loss and lamentation,
Until they sing of a strong and eternal love
That is forever sowing and forever reaping
Love at the beginning and love at the ending.
So the prayers of the world are heard
In the whispering cornfields prayer.
© GWEN GRANT
This little seahorse,
Stitched to the linen
In my fingers,
With gold thread, silver, and a blue
It promises unassailable peace.
This tiny creature,
Delicate as kindness,
Moves through the darkest water,
Holding on to the hope
Of the next sunlit morning.
Its fragile strength
Defeating the stormiest sea.
© Gwen Grant
WAITING FOR SUNRISE
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 lies on his 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.
Hold hands, Lovers.
Hold hands and run.
© Gwen Grant
Anemones are so understatedly beautiful until they flower, then the deep glowing colours shine. There’s a strip of waste land alongside a house we pass when we go into town which someone has adopted. The gardener has planted iris, primrose, violas, poppies, daffodils and lots of other flowers and, always amongst them, the anemone. At the moment, these are a rich burning red and a deep azure blue. This is a second showing for this poem.
Another scratchy night,
With the moon hiding and clouds
Covering the stars.
Bitter thoughts bringing bitter tears,
With memory offering no comfort
Maybe there is a loving hand
To hold your hand,
And maybe not.
Maybe you will remember
Those who once loved you,
And maybe you will forget
How loved you once were.
But when memory fails,
When peace slides out of reach
And touch is never going to be the same again,
You will find strength
In the love that shows itself
In the tenderness of anemones,
Bunched in a small bowl,
Standing on the dark windowsill.
© GWEN GRANT
These old, cold meeting rooms and deserted chapels are derelict now.
Hiding behind weeds and raw, self-set trees,
Just waiting for someone to come along and buy them.
Turn them into flats or offices.
Not nearly as much fun as a gaggle of people
Singing those great old hymns and songs
That solaced and supported whole generations.
Those dauntless songs and psalmodies that made the white opaque lampshades,
Wide and lovely as floating tents, tremble and sway on the wings of melody.
Now, a lullaby, now a trumpet call of men marching to destruction
Or to share in the lonely and terrible deaths of others.
Here is the tiny kitchen, with the battered aluminium kettle
Rattling against the rusted taps,
Waiting to fill the giant teapots for throats dry after all that singing.
There is the strip of linoleum, torn and dirty on the worn out floor
Still showing its faint brown pattern.
A skirt of torn cotton hanging from a broken wire
No longer hides the clean cups and saucers
In the deep wooden cupboard, nor protects the plates, big and small,
Stamped with the name of this once much-loved place.
All gone, except a broken fragment of pot with a few faint words remaining.
Standing amongst the cobwebs, the torn pages of old music
Almost playing themselves in the dusty silence,
I hum an old remembered song of such power and beauty,
All the lost dead and all the forgotten living
Ring out their strong and lovely voices in joyful chorus.
Sharing this last remembrance before it is gone for ever.
© Gwen Grant
I first blogged this poem in October 2017 when blogging was absolutely new and strange to me and I was unaware of how much pleasure it would bring.
We have a favourite place in Scotland that overlooks the River Tay, so we often just sit there and watch the water. The Tay is also known as the ‘Silver’ Tay and it really does shine silver. It’s a very beautiful river.
Behind where we sit, there is an Old People’s Care Home and the ladies are often sat in their little conservatory. Although they are old and sometimes fragile, you can still see in them the lovely young women they once were. That they can see the Tay, too, must be a tremendous pleasure to them.
This is the poem I wrote about that Care Home and the ladies.
LOOKING ACROSS THE TAY
The swans are out again,
Shimmering on the dark water,
Dipping into the splashes of moonlight
they become moonlight themselves,
Every feather sculpted in light.
Little white snowflake swans
Drifting down the silent river.
Behind us lies the Care Home,
Where glass walls welcome the lovely moon
And one lone bed
With a quilt as red as roses,
Lies empty in a corner.
The old ladies who live there,
Watching the white and sparkling swans
Sailing on the glittering water,
Dreamily send their pretty, remembered bodies,
Down that golden moonlit path.
Frail little birds
Who soon overtake the swans.
This river and heaven
Must have a lot in common.
There is a beautiful Magnolia tree in the garden next to ours and it seems to change almost daily, one day full of flowers, the next full of buds and then raggy and desolate with dead and dying leaves. Except! Behind the leaves are the new tight little buds waiting for their moment in the sun. Then, sitting in a car park, staring out at a scrubby piece of neglected woodland, I saw the bright berries of the holly and the determined onslaught of the ivy.
Next door’s Magnolia
Has turned brown.
All leaves gone,
Except the one
That shakes its little
In the winter wind,
Excited by new buds
Pushing its own slow dying
To one side.
Down the lane,
Beam their small cheer
Through the frost bitten branches,
Keeping a wary eye
On the jealous Ivy,
Darkly waiting its chance
To put out their fire.
Always ready to extinguish
Any spark of hope.
© Gwen Grant