Rhapsody in pink

For a few moments, maybe some minutes,
let’s dreamy drift into the feather crush
of London’s clouds of cherry blossom bliss.

The buds, which season-swell with ruby flush,
fill as racing pulses fill impatient
flesh with rhapsodical urges to burst.

Then Beauty comes in given radiance
and resting adoration of the first
and lasting shapes and shades of love.

It comes in silence after flowering,
where stillness is reflected in the sky,
colour pinks the ruffling swirls above,
sense enslaves the energies of thinking
and, for some moments, we are gratified.

Winter Again

As winter ends, winter starts again.
Late March warmth lies with coughs and fever,
face-grey shadows darken longer days,
and high-sky sun shines on windowless wards.
Hospital green is the season’s colour.

Garden foxes play in rose-dawn light,
rising doubt hangs in latent streets, odd wasps
drift between blossoms spreading and seeding
unwanted fruit, and the numbers explode
like purple globes of allium blooms.

Thoughts of renewal are not what they were:
first-cut strips of grass mask earth beneath
and, at a safe distance, tender leaves grieve.
Summertime begins. Winter starts again.

Sonnet

Nights are the worst: dark acres of time are
unfilled with anything but low noise
as cars burr along the northbound carriageway.

Mum is cold, anxious in unsettled grief.
There’s no point getting up: without him there’s
nothing to do. Days see diversions but
now, why does sitting there beat lying here?

Wide awake in darkness she heard herself
say: “Dada?” and reach out her hand. He used
to take it and warm it. This cold, Dada-less
night, as she reached for him again, he
warmed her again. The sheets softened, the noises
dissolved and she stopped thinking. She felt
him, she knew he was nearby and she slept.

The Calm before the Quiet

It is pretty ugly between Gravesend
and Stone Crossing. Puzzling through Rosherville,
to Northfleet’s exhausted ragstone quarry,
Kimberly Clark is making Andrex.

At Ebbsfleet, the footpath runs in zigzags
spanning voids and empty strips of railway
behind galvanised pikes battened by bars.

Half an hour later we see discarded
bottles of corrosive tipped in a ditch
and wild snapdragons grow beside hawthorns
spray-painted grey with exhaust-fume silt.

We take a wrong turning, re-trace our steps,
pass a builders’ merchant’s stockpile of slabs
and an elephants’ graveyard of buses.

At Greenhithe the rain comes. Soon silent Spring
will spread – not unlike the virus – and hide
hedgerow crud beneath blankets of brambles,
nettles, bindweed, storksbill and bittercress.

Cliffe to Gravesend

Same train, same bus, same strange metal giraffes.
This, though, is different. The storm wind is armed:
tiny water dumdums, as hard as ice,
spear and splay, needling my defenceless face.

Plastic mud-larky litters the foreshore:
old rope, smashed flowerpots and bookies’ pens
blown out of the water by gale forces.

At Shornemead Fort we rest and eat our pies.
We pass short-shank horses and burnt out cars.
We walk the wet backs of Gravesend boatyards.
Shocked and silenced, we board the train back home.

Cliffe

Waxy sunshine, low in the winter sky,
makes twilight in the middle of the day.

Weird palavers of birds – lapwings we think –
stretch and compress: twist, swoop, and come to rest.

Flat against the north horizon, motionless,
stand strange giraffes on London Gateway Docks.

Uncle Iolo, centential

From my Granny (Alice Blodwen) to her son, my uncle, Iolo Dyfnan Davies.
29 January 1920 – 5 April 2009

I am remembering my Uncle Iolo with a bitter-sweet chuckle. The letter dates from 1940, as does the photo, I’d guess. It begins: “Now that our British Winter has set in, campaigning is less than ever a picnic. Well keep your bowels open and keep as dry as possible. A good motto for the dark days . . .”

Two Generations

Dada was in the Army at Alamein;
also at Rye and Monte Casino.
I have his cap at home gathering dust,
the dust he went to fourteen years ago.

There’s other stuff in the trunk in the loft,
mementoes of more settled times post War:
letters, certificates and photographs,
sundry notes made on work trips to Tehran.

Memories, he’d say, are lost to common
consciousness after two generations.
His legacy of strong, patient, wisdom
is getting older, harder to recall.

I think of Guernica, Dresden and the Blitz;
Nagasaki, Stalingrad and Auschwitz.

ilmo JA Cole 10 Jan 1920 – 29 Dec 2005

On Seaford Head

On Seaford Head

Yards from the encroaching drop,
Archie Hughes enjoyed the views.

His name, immortalised for now,
burnishes a bench.

What he did, and where, and how,
are disappearing memories,

crumbling like the cliff top.

*posted with birthday thoughts for my Mum who would have been 95 today

Jerusalem

Like many others, I expect, I have long been confused why and how the ‘Jesusalem’ verses by William Blake have become stuff of English patriotism, even jingoism. Yeah, I know, Hubert Parry has a lot to answer for. But it becomes even more confusing when one notes that the repeated question marks written in orignial editions are omitted in many reprints. Not my OUP edition, mind, edited by Geoffrey Keynes. It has more question points than Blake’s engraving!

William Blake’s ‘Jersualem’ engraving

I am sure all of this must have been said before, so this just to get it off my chest. The question marks are essential to the reading. I think of them as rehetorical with the unwritten answer an overwhelming “no!”

Furthering my interpretationis this excerpt from Bible’s book of the Apocalypse, which I came across today. Blake was nothing if not apocalyptic and I suggest these lines from Chapter 21 (or ones similar) might have been an inspiration.

“Vision of the New Jerusalem

 And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

Rethought and redescribed for our heterodox age, we are a long way from Jerusalem.

Adam and Eve

So. Here we are then. Just us. Just us two.
 I see from The Writings that you came first:
me second, made with a rib ripped from you.
Is that the way it is to be? Cast
forever in the backwash of your sex?

The Writings are such patriarchal tripe.
explanations come from genetics
which give women conceptive bragging rights.
The egg came first, was followed by the worm,
and, for goodness sake, it is the female
of our kind in whom our children grow. They nurse
our milky infant kin. Man’s wriggling sperm
is swallowed up. We are incidental.
Whatev. What’s hers is his and his is hers?

Hmmm. It’s good to be held. Hmmm. Your skin
is soft. Hmmm. I feel safe in your arms.
Hmmm
. My love . . .my hope . . . Where do we begin?
We’ll know. Instinct will kick in. Feel my palms
cup your shoulder blades. Feel my upturned hands
placed here upon your breasts. Adam, your lips.

My lips. Eve? Allow yourself. Understand
that this is what it is. There is no script.

Skin. Soft skin. At the faintest touch, or brush,
I’m taken to a rising springful place.
My eyelids fall, involuntarily
and as they do my arms and hands adjust.
Feather fingertips leave shiver traces
and silver stars spill down behind my knees.

Eve, Eve, this has never happened before.
I do not know where we are, let alone
where we are going. What is all this for?
Adam, Adam, we’re in it now, we’ve thrown
our stone; we’re jumping in, surrendering.
Adam, husshh. This passion is a tide
we cannot turn. We must give in. Rushing
waters pull us just one way. Besides
I can’t imagine it’ll be that hard.

I have to disagree. Ha! My mistake.
Hmmm. I feel, no mistake. It’s pure pleasure.
It feels good. Is it all for me?
  It’s ours,
to do with as we wish. To give? To take?
To touch? To feel. Accept? Firmly and far.

Dressed neither in the turned-earth things we’ve said
nor in the future’s hearth-black silhouettes
let’s speak and hear in jumbled blues and reds
met here among the hyssop violets.
Adam, Adam! Let’s dance in purple blurs,
viridian, red, fawn and cobalt blue.
Let’s swim in tangerine and lavender
butter creams, barley, hops and honey dew.
Wrap us in a summertime of being
imbued with primrose-jasmine spells. Hold
us to your gleaming-scarlet stem, heaving
and breathing breaths of rose-quartz crimson gold.
Adam, Adam, let me to Kingdom come.

Oh you. Oh you. Oh you. And I. Are one.

I love you, Adam, man. You are my home.
I love you, Eve, and love this loving hour.
Together, we are finished; we are whole.
We have grown, come of age¸ flowered.

Eve – you shine like morning Sun on water;
you have the beauty of a cloudless sky.
We share this emptied moment afterwards,
a touching, thrilling a single source of life.

My darling one, your breaths are softer now.
As are yours, my sweetness. I love you, Eve,
and love this precious time drawn close and calm,
time spent in the lea of our desires
It’s time I wish would last eternity
a timeless time of blissful certainty.

(for two voices, set before the Fall, from a very long poem I am writing called ‘body+blood’. Posted here for Emma on our 23rd wedding anniversary)