With sunset on some silver, see, clear shadow lines across the way, sharp bars confine and would restrict, prevention, falls, the common plea, ‘we want to keep you safe my dear’, for patient bed would cost too dear. Is there a strand of sand beneath, calm ripples of receding tide, waves’ gentle lapping on the shore - but surely there was space for more? I think her face, expectant, raised, the last of warmth from dying sun, a wistful stare from wispy hair, but his is down, contemplative. Here unities of time and space, their daily pace suspended, hear. This stretch of land, brief marked, their prints, that blanche a whiter shade of pale - yet far beyond the vanish point, perspective dreams horizon sight. It is all screened in black and white, palette retired to monochrome, for those who know life’s not like that; but soon they’ll go where they don’t want, be taken where their place is wheeled. With blanket wrapped around her thighs, eyes as important as the stance, but what the glance, or even stare beyond the bar which others passed? And like the couple by the lee, their way hemmed in, what might have been, prevailing anorak and lap. They ponder crossing of that bar, when wraiths are wreathed, not smiles but flowers, their silhouettes translate as shades. Hive The ukulele, not best for Danny Boy, means unaccompanied, we gravel to begin; our chariot choir sings high and low, though jointly note the middle range. Despite harmonious melody, the Dublin-born disputes the tune is Londonderry Air, an Ulster name. But with Guinness I have heard plantation words alongside craic, and Prot bars resound republican. We warble words with the chorus girls, a hurting leg, Jack's grunt refrain. Out the door, politics; here we laugh at wheelchair three point-turn or six in this space, confined, it’s like our repartee, the discourse of humanity, Areopagus of fun. Kim, the crochet girl has brought a bag of kitchenalia to identify. This largely plastic crowded tray whets few appetites today. With glove stretchers, I had never need of tongs to empty sauce sachets, or the mango stone remover, the sandwich cutter which prevents squashed jam seeping from bread edges. Yesterday sachets and mangoes were not in the scullery, or indeed between my teeth, while butter or jam were choice, and crustiness, grandpa's trait, an ingredient of life. Because the baby has been born half-knit blue cardigan has sleeves now turning pink; desultory chair exercise brings the needles overhead. This group, hive christened, and we its bees; some come from ever-silent rooms and travel here without sound, broken-winged, as if the sting already taken from our tale. Once my thought-question slipped from lips; it might have searched opinions, we could have shared spoken debate, we might have made a meal of it. But when the leader googles phone, the answer served on a plate, then beehive becomes an igloo still, snake-charmer's basket on its head, and honey comb cannot mature. The yellow high-viz jacket wears a button hole, woollen daffodil, but insists it to be a crocus flower. In stitches he offers me its curling bloom to smell; we are back to buzzing and that perfume claims the room.
In vest, short shorts, quick reflex points, our up and over, chain-link fence, we traded jokes, paraded skills, especially under watch of girls, as learnt to make a better pass, slow climbed team pecking order, cheeked, our early learning underway. Lithe limbed, grown pecs, less heaving chests, we argued, competition rules, but knew that friendship surpassed wins; we found that bruising brought out best, concern, take care, strip bandages, best treatment, algebra of bones. We cursed at dogs which mucked about, grass scraped together, rubbed along, and rolled our joints to reach our dreams. Short bounce, tall slide, taut words and terms, vocabulary of the court, and when were caught, swore under breath, the oaths we’d take another place. While palms were crossed, high five for some, as sentence passed, no spin at all. And now this frame is old, grey, tired, waste band that sags, hangs out below, with knots, sad bag, though ties still hold, wee lads that made it to the man. I guess this now a sunset cause, the last post calling, rusty links, as green tufts breaking through the tar, our baby stubs, where we first puffed. Buddleia blooms, flit butterflies now hover where we stood our ground; but soon I’ll lie and rest awhile, those sods around the plot I chose - a final hoop, then down to land.
Growing Patch For years it was a briar patch, the spittoon for my tar babies where dog-ends crouched and mucked about, a wasteland, harsh for lions’ teeth, few tattered rugs for undergrowth, a two-piece suite though downside-up, no longer fire-resistant kite flying as passers tipped more dump. Deep roots beneath the mats required, agent orange or napalm spray from TV dinners, Nam and eggs; but then despite my settled view, like greenstick-fractured sapling torn, my seasoned outlook snapped in two, algebra working in my bones, now marrow spreading, open flowered. New groundwork digging in my mind - a landscape under my control, working not against, with the clay, the carpets floored a compost heap. I burned brambles, skipped furniture, nightshade cleared from the deadly dock, laid grass where the couch had strayed, from mattress rot, created beds. Now creepers climb where nettles rashed, an arbour necklaced jasmine gems, prim roses replace trailing dogs; the paving crazed, thyme on its stones the garden broom flings seeds about - while honeysuckled by the bees. Herbaceous fills the spacious soil - I put flags out to celebrate.
Swaddling It was summer when she passed - we knew come spring she would not last. But as fresh buds broke from dead wood, the tree stump bark cork cambium erupted, unexpected growth, we set our minds to recreate, wrapped in those tie-dyes, student years, free spirited, our crazy route - wherever wheels led, patchwork quilt. The golden beetle, sixties beat, with petals painted engine end, exhausted smoke, herbaceous mist, above tired tyres, poor tarmac grip, we blared our Massachusetts air. Amongst pricked gorse of butter milk, where heather bushed in purple rug, and ling blushed swags for peewit wings, we reminisced on heath surrounds with lizard whips and butterflies. We lay on turf, moss bed of peats, shared sunbathe near an adder brood and watched the glare drop from our earth as cool pulled lower down the snake in the question mark, our beading eyes, saw what we knew dreamt, hoped and felt. May we stay here in cling sarongs, two folds, but one in chrysalis, a swaddling band for pyre cloth, await the dew on resting eyes, a serene ending, all our days? an arbour necklaced jasmine gems, prim roses replace trailing dogs; the paving crazed, thyme on its stones the garden broom flings seeds about - while honeysuckled by the bees. Herbaceous fills the spacious soil - I put flags out to celebrate. Bio: Stephen Kingsnorth, retired to Wales, UK, from ministry in the Methodist Church due to Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies. His blog is at https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/ The pieces above are previously published pieces, but rights remain with the author
Reblogged this on The Wombwell Rainbow.
I like this stanza especially. Well done!
“ With glove stretchers, I had never need
of tongs to empty sauce sachets,
or the mango stone remover,
the sandwich cutter which prevents
squashed jam seeping from bread edges.
Yesterday sachets and mangoes
were not in the scullery,
or indeed between my teeth,
while butter or jam were choice,
and crustiness, grandpa’s trait,
an ingredient of life.”