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”.

The generosity of birds

By which I mean

The way the robin throws his song
out to the world

The way the herring gull
carves the sky

The way the starlings
create dreams

The way the wren
calls from the hedge

The way the pigeons
swagger across the city square

The way the goldfinch
embroiders a line
between tree and sky

The way the blackbird
melts the world into music

The way the cormorant
opens its wings its arms its heart
to the wind

The way the lark
sings only of summer

The way the buzzard
reminds us to trust the sky

A poem for Brendan at earthweal, celebrating biodiversity.

Watching the old man.

He makes his way carefully across the waste ground, prodding with his stick as he goes. I wonder what he’s after? What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow out of this stony rubbish? Ivy and bindweed and fireweed and sallow – nothing edible as far as I can see. Maybe he’s not after food. Maybe he’s a scavenger, hoping to find something useful – plastic, cloth, old tin cans? I could tell him this ground’s been picked over again and again. I could tell him to watch out, there’s danger here. Scarier things than me.

I don’t. I don’t say anything. I keep myself hidden, peer out from my hollow.

I like to hear him sing. It reminds me of being warm, and clean, and of something sweet…and milky…ah – I can’t think of it. I keep watching, keep listening, but the words won’t come.

Prosery for Mish at dVerse. 144 words of flash fiction, containing a line from a poem. Tonight’s poetry quotation is from T S Eliot: ” What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow out of this stony rubbish?”.

Stumbling on beauty

That summer, I became adept
at finding beauty. I reached out
for it – the clean-scrubbed nails
on the nurse’s fingers. They were beautiful.
The green flesh of an avocado;
a spider’s web, caught in a hedge –
all beauty. I held it like a trophy.
I was so greedy for the loveliness
of a child swinging in a playground,
of a light caught in water
of a bird turning on emptiness –
I collected it, collated it, I held it tightly,
threw it high, up into the air, like
cherryblossom or confetti, like the light
that shatters through the branches of a tree.

I am more than flattered to feature in this week’s earthweal prompt. Sherry reminds us to look for beauty, to show Mother Earth our joy.