Going into the sacred grove in summer

I look up for the light.
We’re all craning for the light,
me and the trees –
the skinny saplings,
younger than my boots;
the big old beech,
that’s older than my soul –
we reach up
in this hushed place,
even the nettles.
We are hushed.

I’m experimenting with titles. I’ve always been a bit shy about my titling (don’t want to promise more than I can deliver!) but now I’m trying to be playful with them, to see them as part of the poem, or as a piece in their own right. Anyhow, that’s why the title is almost as long as the poem here.

This is for Brendan at earthweal,who asks us to write about sacred landscapes. I’m sure I’ve mentioned our sacred groves before. Beara means “sacred grove”, apparently. The farm up the lane is called Beara, and there are certainly a few odd shaped bits of woodland that have never been incorporated into fields…interesting…probably not sacred any more, but good for wildlife. We have one in the top corner of our property, grown up around a spring…oh yes. I live with nymphs.

This stubborn place

This is a stubborn place, I’d say.
Old names live on here. Bits of wild
cling to steep hillsides, linger
in forgotten corners.

Three nights ago we saw a hare
lop-lollying along the ridges
in the maize field. I wonder
what she thinks of our machines,
our lines. We carve the landscape,
make divisions, demarcations.

Up on the hill, the farm name holds
the memory of a sacred grove.
Scrabbled scruffy stands of ash and oak
are still held sacred – never cut.
Our hedgerows are all tangled sanctuaries –
blackthorn, hazel, haw –
small creatures hiding, homing there.

Last night an owl swooped silent
across Nick and Jennie’s field,
clipping the long grass, almost.
We watched him scouting,
criss-crossing the scrubby corner
where the lane turns east.

Things are a little tatty here.
There’s space for nesting sparrows,
jackdaws crank call from the bottom barn,
and the rooks nest all along
the field’s top corner, and beyond.
You’ll see them march
across the slurried fields.
Leatherjackets, that’s what
they’re after, beaks plunged
in the smelly ground.

Sometimes
we’ll meet a deer, tip-toeing.
Wildness ebbs and flows –
a field left fallow,
a field ploughed,
an old hedge lost
to trees. A lane forgetting
it was ever paved.

We make accommodations here.
We let the nettles grow,
the brambles fling their skinny arms out.
We are not too fussy.
Well, we can’t afford to be –
you turn your back round here
and the wild slips back,
whispering old stories,
old secrets, trailing
old scents, remembering.

A poem for Brandon at Earthweal. I’m lucky to live in a rural backwater. I’ve been angry for a while now, at so many things happening in the world. I’ve given myself a break in this one, and indulged myself, revelling in the beauty of the world around me.

World – ghazal for dVerse II

I went out to look at it, the great and glorious world,
And brought it home with me, and made an inner world.

I walked past a tree that danced with bees,
And brought the buzzing home into my golden world

The hedge was laced along its length with white,
Spindrifting on the sea in my wild world

The sky above my head was a grey pearl,
And the sheen lives on in my small, rounded world

The deer and I stood still and gazed
Eye meeting eye, both silent, in my quiet world

And now I sit, a princess in my tower,
And write the words that form my paper world.

My second ghazal. I’m struggling with the non-narrative nature of the form. I wouldn’t normally think of myself as a narrative poet, but I obviously am! This is for the dVerse Form for All prompt.

The wild

I have seen flowers come in stony places,
Their fine roots crumbling concrete;
I have seen gulls nesting on sky scraping cliffs
And watched grass quietly creeping out over the lane.
I have held the gaze of a fox on a garden wall,
Heard a blackbird calling from a broken gutter,
Seen a tree growing from a long cold chimney
And ivy reaching blindly through a paneless window.

Who are we kidding? With our taming mesh of roads
And bridges, our glyphosates, our planned piazzas?
One day, this will fall,
In an orgy of vegetation – and daisies will sprout
Between our sanded floor boards, and bindweed
Climb helter skelter up the lamp posts,
And deer will browse among the rusted frames
Of our bark chipped playgrounds.

The wild is always there,
Waiting to return.

 

It’s open link night at dVerse, and Grace is in charge. This is one of the first poems I ever blogged, in April 2016 – for NaPoWriMo. The prompt was “a borrowed first line” and I chose one from John Masefield. In fact the whole poem is only 4 lines long, so it’s one I can remember…

I have seen flowers come in stony places
And kind things done by men with ugly faces
And the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races,
So I trust too.

 

NaPoWriMo 5 – Apple tree

I’m just waiting now for blossom –

keeping an eye out: plump buds

pink as baby fists, just waiting

to unfurl. They’re there – 

I’ve seen them.

I’m just hoping there’s no frost –

late frost’s a killer,

but it’s too late now to stop – 

spring’s snowballing

too fast now. The hedge

is spangled – blackthorn flowers:

lighter than hawthorn,

floating round those

vicious spikes. Talking of which,

the hawthorn’s wicked green,

biding its time; 

the bird cherry’s over –

but it’s the apple tree

I hover over, greedy for blossom,

envying the bee.

Forest bathing haibun for dVerse

I know this trail so well. It leads from the road into the woods. I’ve been here in every season, and every kind of weather. I’ve walked here in the moonlight, in the sunlight, and in the rain. I’ve paced here, cycled here, strolled here, and today I’m running – for my body and my soul. If you follow me, you’ll pass the bank where the old man’s beard runs wild. It won’t last much longer, now spring is on its way. A little further on a brook runs by the side of the path, clear water, where cresses will grow in a few weeks’ time. We cross the river, and pause to look for the heron, who stands one-legged in the water that crashes over the weir. Beyond the bridge the banks are high around us, it’s darker, and rhododendrons grow leggy in the shade, but then we cross the meandering river again and find ourselves high among the branches of the woodland. We look down, down, down to the forest floor, where soon there will be bluebells, and ransoms, and wild garlic, yellow celandine and dog violets. There will be sweet flower scents, and the green scent of trees, and the savoury smell of the ransoms. The river is quiet here, but there are birds singing, and the sudden rat-tat-tat of a woodpecker calls us to stop for a moment. There is the whisper of green in the tips of twigs, and the blackthorn is blossoming already. Spring is coming, drawing green spikes up from the dull earth, setting green finches dancing through the air, and filling my lungs with clear light.

Drum roll in the woods
Fanfare of green, white and gold
Spring songs in the woods

Toni at dVerse invites us to bathe in a forest, sink into nature, and let ourselves go. Check out the poets’ pub – it’s friendly, and there’s some great poetry there.

Haibun for Dverse – quotidian moments.

This is not a ritual, though my body moves with the fluidity of repetition, and my hands know the weight of water they carry, and the angle of tilt, and the moment to stop. This is not a ritual, though I stay silent as I step out into the sounds and scents of the morning, cup cradled like a chalice between my hands. There is dew on the grass, and a bird sings close by, and I crush a leaf between my fingers to catch the fresh smell of it. This is not a ritual, though it is a pause, a slow intake of breath, a blossom caught in the moment between bud and flower. It is a round stone in the stream of the day.

Green leaf in the cup
Opening leaf in the sun
The clean scent of mint.

A haibun for D’verse, where Toni wanted a piece on our daily actions…

Link

Thank you for the prompt Jane Dougherty

 

On this silver day
When the storm has blown itself out
And rolls like a cat in the bay,
And the light itself
Meanders along the shoreline
Too lazy to catch fire,
I send you a map
Of a place you’ve forgotten,
And a key to the door
You locked yourself.

I send you the secret
You whispered
As you climbed aboard
The dream that would carry you.

On this silver day
When the sun trails
Ethereal veils
And each grain of sand
Is a diamond
I send you a thread
That will lead you home

If home is where you wish to be.

NaPoWriMo 25 – borrowing a first line

I have seen flowers come in stony places,
Their fine roots crumbling concrete;
I have seen gulls nesting on sky scraping cliffs
And watched grass quietly creeping out over the lane.
I have held the gaze of a fox on a garden wall,
Heard a blackbird calling from a broken gutter,
Seen a tree growing from a long cold chimney
And ivy reaching blindly through a paneless window.

Who are we kidding? With our taming mesh of roads
And bridges, our glyophosphates, our planned piazzas?
One day, this will fall,
In an orgy of vegetation – and daisies will sprout
Between our sanded floor boards, and bindweed
Climb helter skelter up the lamp posts,
And deer will browse among the rusted frames
Of our bark chipped playgrounds.

The wild is always there,
Waiting to return.