Letter to the ice sheets

We thought you were death –
a sterile sheet covering
a corpse. I mean, men went to you
to die, monsters leaping
from floe to floe, men failing,
flailing, calling themselves heroes.

Now we know, you are the hero –
your embrace contains
the oceans, your cold arms
brace against the deluge –
you are not separate, you are part
of the great pattern –

and we are grubby idiots,
poking our sticks at things
that we don’t understand,
tearing and breaking. We are
shattering the web, stuffing
shreds of foolishness
into our gaping pockets –

we watch the polar bear
swimming towards the ice –
swimming and swimming.
Oh, we say, oh, it’s too much –
too sad.
We turn our backs –
eat one more cake,
drink one more can,
buy one more t-shirt.

We leave the room,
leave on the lights

A poem for Sherry at earthweal.

West coast

The sea is blue –
as if all the blue
was made here
before the world was born

as if all the blue
flowed out of here –

summer sky
winter twilight
jay feather
gannet’s eye
old sapphires
chicory flowers

and that’s why we pause
we breathe in blue
we soak in it, float in it

we rest in it.

My offering for dVerse tonight. I’m hosting, and we’re looking at paintings by Fay Collins. Join us.

eroded coast iso400

Haibun: gratitude.

I started a gratitude journal a few weeks ago, at a time when it was hard to feel grateful. It’s gently morphed into something slightly different – this is the place where I write down the moments that make me stop and absorb. I’m grateful for those moments because for a breath, a pause, a heartbeat, I am taken out of myself. I forget myself.

What I realised a couple of days ago is that these are haiku moments. The moments we step outside of time, the moments we want to share with the universe.

an oak tree
a circle of gold
autumn ends

A haibun for Frank at dVerse. We are thinking about thankfulness in this Thanksgiving week.

Oatcakes. Stoke.

running down the backs –
for a dozen. One in the hand,
hot. And the comfortable heat

of the white paper parcel
pressed between arm and chest.

Did I mention the feel
of old cobbles, smoothed
by a million footsteps,
the hot, sour savoury smell,

the hiss of the griddle,
the warm knowing
that there would be melted cheese
waiting in a Pyrex dish

and Granny’s hands, big-knuckled,
turning bacon in the pan?

A poem about memories, for Laura Bloomsbury at dVerse.

Prosery: reaching the line


I’m running as fast as I can. Breathing hurts, everything hurts, but here is the line: I am bombarded yet I stand, just out of range. They can’t reach me now. The missiles fall short.

My comrades aren’t all so lucky. I count the ones who reach the line – three, nine, seventeen. That’s all that’s left of us. Eighteen, one with a ragged wound in his leg, one with blood pouring down her face.

We walk now, legs aching, longing for water and rest. We don’t even look behind, to where the castle is burning. Others will take over now, break through those walls, announce their triumph. They won’t mention us in their victory speeches. We have fire beneath our skins: we are the devil’s children. We’ll be kept hidden until we’re needed again.

One day we’ll burn everything. One day we’ll be free.

Merril is hosting a prosery night at dVerse tonight: 144 words of flash fiction, containing the key line. Tonight’s line is from Adrienne Rich’s ‘Planetarium’ : Here is the line: “I am bombarded, yet I stand”.

All souls

Move over. Let them come in.
They are there, clamouring at the edge of the light –
whispering their lives. Listen.
Move over. Let them touch you, their cold fingers
on your heart, their paws, their claws,
the soft brush of a feather. Let their leaves
fall on your face again.

There are not enough tears to put out these fires.
There are not enough tears to carry these boats
down the river to the sea. There are not enough tears.

All Souls, and the priests bless the graves
with smoke and words and water. This is far
from plastic webs and monster masks and eyeball candy.
We are somewhere else now, a place where grief
is love and love is grief and there are not enough tears

to wash away the mess we’ve made. There are not enough tears
to clean our hands. But here, in this place, for a moment,
there are only tears. What else can we give?

Let them in. Let them sit with you, guests at your table.
Let them eat your love. Let them drink your tears.
Let them feed you with their pale hands. Let them remind you
to love the world. To love the world enough, to seek out
beauty, to stand amazed. Let them love through you.

Here, we balance past and future. We are transient,
slipping through time, trailing dreams and memories.
We bury our seeds deep in the winter soil. We hope they will grow,
that the trees we plant will feed some future child,
that a blackbird will peck the topmost apple,
that the soil will take back the ones that fall,
that someone will wonder who planted this tree,
here, in this place. That someone will be touched
by our pale shadow, by the warm breeze of our lost breath.

Our earthweal prompt this week is the last of the Cross Quarter Celtic festivals – Samhain – All Souls’ Day – Halloween – the Day of the Dead. It seems to be a festival we need – we’ve held on to it for a long time. I’ve really enjoyed writing these Cross Quarter prompts. In fact, this was the start of the Celtic year, so I guess we’ve come full circle. If you’ve read these prompts, I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

Last light

Sunlight broke the clouds at the last
and we saw, and we rushed out to catch
the last daylight

We walked up the lane, where the trees
reach up to the sky. Stayed too long – suddenly
it was twilight

We walked back as the night pulled our coats
and the house was a black paper boat
in the moonlight

We made warmth – we pushed out the cold
with hot soup and red wine, and the gold
of the firelight

And the room that we slept in that night
was a palace of silver delight, so bright
was the starlight.

This is a compound word poem, for a prompt by Grace at dVerse. You can find the rules on her prompt post. This is a new form for me, and I always find it takes a while for me to get my head round new forms! So this is quite simple, I think.

Foundling

We found her wandering
hazel twig in one hand
feet bare and bleeding –

she wouldn’t speak
her lips were stained
with juice, her fingers, too –

lucky to be lost
in berry season
we said. Lucky.

She was afraid of us.
We offered bread. She ate it,
never looking away from us,
like a wren, like a dog
that had learned to be wary.

She never smiled.

We took her home with us,
to the fireside, and clothes
that were more than rags,
and bread to be kneaded
and floors to be swept
and butter to be churned

but still she held herself
like a deer, waiting to leap –
like a hare, quivering
in her stillness,
like a bird half-tamed.

For Laura at dVerse – a poem of finding – initially inspired by Pablo Neruda’s poem Lost in the Forest.

Autumn

The trees catch fire –
flames flicker in the wind –
gold and red and amber –
and then the nakedness
of branches, ash-grey
against an ash-white sky
and deep deep down
embers are waiting
for a single breath
to leap up fresh and new –
green flames

I’m the host at dVerse tonight – it’s always a thrill to host the quadrille! Our word tonight is “ash”.