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? Dream Catcher
Feathers for the eagle height but also pickings, platform stilts, the elder laid for vulture beak, to raise both prey and prayer light into thermal vista scape. The catcher, circle, cycle life, clear space to blow the riff chaff through, but geometric lacing too that meaning scenes of dreams, peace, strife, flit skein, the skin, cat’s cradle skim. As old men dreams turn visions, young, and maintain hope for tested, tried, it may be campfire lore will tell of who we were, when sighs were sung, which then burn brightly, wind inspired. Re-Incarnation
Without my specs, I saw a cheese, well-ripened, past its sell-by date, hard cheddar mixed with herbal flakes, goat gouda stuffed with fenugreek - but study clarified the stitch in plastic, not a leather seat. That sets the age - assume not staged, conglomerate, synthetic mulch, but stratified, a grating rind, absorbent tissue for the moss, wherever dip or needle hole. Unpromising to propagate, like buddleia in bomb site crack, yet here it is on moulded shape, a host for green and creeping things. Though saddle-sore, I don’t think staged - it takes me back to Cambridge days, drop handlebars - no sturmey gears - just pedal power and lecture notes, in woven basket strapped to rear, and padlocked to a college rail or thrown, if late, tutorial. Indeed, here framed, it might be mine, bike lost, occasion such as this, poor time-keeping, that machine thrust to ground for theft outside the school - that session, thief in paradise; the life expectancy of wheels a resurrection bicycle, in tandem, saprophytic style? Fisher King
Where ash and bullfinch, kicking the curl dust-desiccated floor bedding conkers, to collect, and learn why candelabra die, the seasons passing, marking dance? Tell the mistle from the song, know more than robin’s easy blush, the finches beak from starling stab, enjoy the dripping on the crust before we shared the fatty stub; now thistles gone, greyed decking sum, concrete for rims, wheel mowing lines. Bruised reeds, unbroken, layabout, minnows, a jam jar, string around, tadpoles, toads and newts nearby, seen thread or clump, we gathered spawn to grail the jellied specks with awe. We early reckoned death with us, fashioned cross where goldfish earthed, more celebrated brought to birth. That what early learning meant, reading lines thought heaven sent, dandled, dawdling, driven less, halcyon, raft calming seas. Privilege
When serendipity appeared (‘divine’ seemed blaming God for much - their absence, trinity, from most) they claimed the same brought privilege - and I could not agree the more that fortune’s door opened for me. I did grab, grasp it with all means, my mentors, training, family, the opportunities of wealth in academe, for those who would. One leading to another, trailed, collected circumstance conspired, lay vistas unfold at my feet. I do not deny, as always so, it is response enables growth, and whilst ambition, cash rewards not features in my driving force (without appearance to this day) yet I know that this verse alone stands testament to all enjoyed - five years at Cambridge, wisdom’s hub, its travel, drama, meeting fame, and countless gifts of grace in frame. But does world gain, my freedom’s choice offered through generations’ leap? So I must less apologise. Past Death I did not know her, here laid out, a careful combing of the hair not as I’d known it set before - forehead laid bare, cleared silver strands; not of my choosing, frame beside. But father told he wanted this, a final farewell to his wife, though he knew, as did I, full-well, she long had left; this trolley bare, enforced that spirit flown the room. By absence seeping beads drawn down - the knowledge that we paused alone, skeletal cage deserted now. And since, the question posed myself - should I dissuade through queries raised? Poor memory’s now fixed in place - this mask should not replace her face; some say dread visit reinforced, that shock fires mould of empty clay - unnecessary proof for me. For him, for his, I dare not say; the sixty years entitle him to linger, lose, yet loose again the bond and knots that tied them close. And sons accompany past death.
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/
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