MR ESPALIER

This poem came to be written because I’d been thinking about a
music teacher we had at school.  He was a very diffident man who
had to try and teach some elements of music to a crowd of children
for whom, by and large, music was a closed book.  He stuck in my
mind because I liked him and liked what he was endeavouring to
do.  Of course, a couple of years later came rock and roll, the
w
hole world of music opened up to us and then we were all
music,
music, music!

       MR ESPALIER

Mr. Espalier, our music teacher,
Took himself very seriously,
So we had to take him seriously, too.
He would sit at the piano, strike a key,
Muse, ‘Top C’, do you see?’
Then launch into a melody so beyond us,
Only every now and again would a phrase catch our attention,
Stopping the tapping of pencils on teeth,
Lulling us into a silence that made us stop and listen.

But Mr. Espalier was full of surprises,
One day swinging into music that followed us home,
Curling all around the council houses,
Weaving in and out of the pink ‘Peace’ roses
Flowering in almost every garden,
Dogging our heels, scaring the unwary,
Banging on front doors and demanding entry.

We flung the doors wide enough, of course,
For every note to march straight in.
Until, like Mr. Espalier, this friendly, beaming stranger,
Demanded our full concentration before it would begin,
Almost carelessly, to give us its family name.

It was Dave Brubeck and Fats Waller,
Moody blues man, Muddy Waters.
Chopin and his mazurkas,
Ravel and Woody Guthrie.
Honky-tonk, rock’n’roll and Gospel Mahalia.
Sibelius, with the drowning beauty of his ‘Finlandia.’
‘Ophelia!  Oh, Ophelia!’
Silky Peggy Lee and lovely ice-cool Ella.
Stravinsky in the Spring and Arnold Schoenberg
Whose every chord sent a flurry
Of exclamation marks flying through the air,
Filling every child there full of astounded questions.
Then, ‘Stand to attention, you lot at the back,’
For here comes Elgar,
As this glorious new family member
Claimed our hearts once for always and for ever.

It was probably then that Mr. Espalier’s class
Of soul-hungry children,
Whose family name had always been, ‘Rejection,’
Decided to grow roses when we got older
To honour him.
                                         ©2012 G
wen Grant

LET IT GO

         LET IT GO

It isn’t only the immediate pain,
It is the acquired pain
That troubles and torments the pockets of the mind
With its terrible, unending energy,
Of memories that hurt and burn, scald and bite,
Feeding on our disasters,
Growing fat and greedy on our cataclysmic tragedies.

At least, this is what we think
As we survey the wreckage behind us
And the very uncertain structure that lies ahead,
Of a life that has somehow accommodated
A train crash of gargantuan proportions,
Or, maybe, to others, a bump of Lilliputian dimensions
Blown up like a balloon.

Until that fretful thinker suddenly says,
‘Ah, sod it,’ and finally lets the whole of it float away,
To leave behind a nice, clean life sheet to scribble on.
Oh, what joy to start again.
To forgive as many times as we need to.

                                           © 2019 Gwen Grant

THE MOUNTAIN

These mountains enfold peace. All that can be heard are the far away
sounds of birds and water, the sound of the wind, and the rattling of
loose stones as they are dislodged by even the most careful feet. Then,
quite suddenly, a jet aircraft screams through the sky, weaves around,
swooping so close until you’re convinced they’ve come to give you a
lift, then they’re gone. And we look at the eagles hovering, balancing
on the air, letting the silence return.

THE MOUNTAIN

It is wild up here.
The wind and the rocks and the dry grass
Do not care
Who sees them,
Nor how far you have come.

They are going nowhere.
They can wait
Until you have gone.

But when you’ve gone,
Like silk,
The rocks will tumble
Into lovely shapes.

A veil,
A waterfall,
A plume of stones
To lie on the dry, dry, grass.
Making the mountain beautiful.

A tiny reminder
Of the grandeur of love.

                © 2017 Gwen Grant.

PRESENT ETERNITY

PRESENT ETERNITY

If she had to cut her coat
According to her cloth,
The old girl knew
It was going to be a damn thin coat,
Nowhere near thick enough
To keep out the cold.

Glancing into a passing shop window,
She felt absolutely fed-up,
For the coat she had been wearing
For all of her present eternity
Was thin, too, and wrinkled,
Needing an iron.

But, sighing, with a bit of luck,
she knew she would

Patch it up a few more times
Before she was ready to change it.

                      © 2018 Gwen Grant

OUT OF THE DARKNESS


OUT OF THE DARKNESS

When it’s all over bar the shouting,
When the last tear has fallen
And the shocked heart has settled
Once more to its beating.
When the requiem for the lost
Has played its final bleak murmuring
And sorrow brings the broken to their knees,
That is when all that is left is love,
Love is all that is left.

But what good is left-over love
To the shattered heart?
What good is hope
Lying broken in the darkness?

Out of the darkness come the rains
To fill the dry beds of rivers
With water moving silky as young women sleeping,
Rolling and twisting, twisting and turning,
Their long bony feet stretching thinly behind them;
When trees come to leaf like young men leaping
Up branches to touch the first floor of heaven,
Strong hands full of leaves, now full of flowerings
And dry deserts blooming.

So when all is said and done,
The requiem over and silence soft fallen.
That is when all that is left is love
And love is all.

©2019 Gwen Grant