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 Brown body In the winter wind, Excited by new buds Breaking through. Pushing its own slow dying To one side.
Down the lane, Red berries 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.
Late love, With all its tenderness, Turns us all Into navigators, Archaeologists, Gently blowing the dust of years From the site of yesterday. Sometimes finding the splendours Of Carter’s Tutankhamen, Sometimes bringing to the light A tiny twist of yellow gold, Its brightness hidden from invaders.
Cautious, careful, 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.
When I was a child, I was sent away for a year for my health. Everything there was the exact opposite to my home. No bright colours as at home and, of course, with so many children to care for, instead of love, there was an impartial interest and care. There are many times we would not go back to and this was one of them.
LET IT BE
Last night, The apple tree turned white, Its wide skirts trembling As if some fabulous ballerina Was dancing over the grass.
For a moment, I was taken back To my childhood. Looking at an apple tree Through a window, Where my finger nail Scraped long strands of frost.
Then I was a long way from home. A long way from love and colour, Close to dark uniforms, To squares of aprons Crackling in snowy starchiness. White caps like fearful torches Breaking the dusky violet night, Making me weep for home.
Now making me glad that none of us Can inhabit the past.
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.
The days go round so fast, Even as we watch the clock, These hours chasing hours Make us feel As if we are pinned To the centre of time. The ordered, carefree minutes, Race away like stars Falling into memory. Unstoppable, Wholly uncontrollable, So fast, so giddy, Sparks fly out of our eyes, Fire springs from our fingers And from our feet, Tiny flames of life lick the startled air.
I have now seen so many new years, I almost feel as if I glitter with the sprinkled dust of long experience. Still, as the old saying goes, ‘There may be snow on the chimney but there’s a fire in the hearth.’ Wishing a fire in the hearth for everyone and very little snow.
TIME AND AGAIN
All the quiet hours Have slipped away, The laughing and the weeping Whirled into nothingness, But love remains, Burning with the desire To create a new reality.