Harris

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The roads tiptoe across the rock-studded

land, tripping between dark pools and peat-scrapes.

They’re like tourists in an ancient culture –

a surface noise that slips across the truth

of the island where always the wind is king.

Homes hunker down trying not to be seen

by the shrieking rage of regal vengeance

once it has wiped the fixed grin of Summer

from its fury. It yearns to scour the earth,

to scrub it until the old bare sculpted

rock shines new and clean in the Winter cold.

Only the patterns of lichen as friends,

the wind wraps its solitude in wildness

and hurls the rain at shivering heartbeats.

Tuesday 17th February 2004 Bridgnorth

 

Across the brown artery,

the water stirred and swollen to a level

beyond our resistance,

I walked alone up the cobbled street,

Imagination closed,

roller shutters down,

hat a substitute for style, pace for purpose.

 

 

The day was without features,

without rain, wind or sun,

neither hot nor cold.

Drained of colour by the unbroken cloud,

a blank canvas stared at me

like the first page of a second novel,

reflecting only my emptiness.

 

 

But there were the intricacies, ingenuities

of cliff side houses, cave homes,

engineers fashioning safety out of the hillside;

decorative shapes, rich colours;

gardens, yards, porches

Alive with determined humanity –

 

 

Then emptiness became an adolescent

affectation, a way to

interpret common or garden exhaustion

as if it had some meaning

of wider significance than my own

shortage of sleep and shyness of nature.

 

And so I drive home

Into the darkening sky,

with raindrops for company

giving a dazzling blur

to the oncoming traffic.

The Welsh Mourner

The weight of his years bent his head,

no exalted consolation

in this plain land where the chapel,

sinking back into wild tangles

beyond the rescue of heroes

bears no ‘Bethesda’ to its name;

‘Alarms’ it declares.

 

Whatever his dreams, he looks down

to the plot of earth where she lies.

The view, in the pearl light of dawn,

held its breath and cast a stillness,

cool to the touch, silent, rapt,

as he wrestled love’s mystery.

I too am stilled as the day dawns,

with a quest more abstract in form

at my back, in a sheltered room

apart from the world.
And yet, now I look down the graves,

lost in thought with this lone figure

by the sea’s pale immensity,

time’s witness to some private grief,

I notice his unfussy stance,

his coat just snatched from the kitchen

no thought to dress in Sunday best;

just him, his presence; then I see

it is me unadorned, alone

on watch for some hope.

 

Fear and Loss

 

The man walked slowly

His world was grey and damp with shining reflections

Of orange, unseen around him.

He put a few extra layers

Between him and the cold drizzle

Blowing down his collar.

So that his thoughts were padded too.

 

He was therefore almost closed to incidents.

Sirens could cause him to turn

With a momentary curiosity

That subsided as soon as it came;

His feet were kept at a distance

As he held himself inside for warmth,

And I suppose, cleanliness, neatness.

 

Striding towards him

Came another for whom the world was a roadway

His own, direct and always

With an end in view. He cut through

The cold and the wet – it bounced off him.

His red face and broad shoulders

Looked around unflinching.

 

 

Incidents crowded around him.

The sharp profile of a passing Lexus;

The barber’s shop tell tale

Weekend closure; banner headlines about the breakdown

Of a life; the timing of traffic lights;

All became stories to tell or

Carriages for his opinions to be aired.

 

 

Did they meet or pass

In the same universe, exchange anything?

Perhaps you would have caught the echo

Of a terse greeting, or a glimpse

That might have suggested a shrinking

Deeper into cap and scarf.

A smile would have been too much.

Palm Sunday

Beware – palms waving in jubilation

Do not recognise Truth͛s pale countenance

As it trudges its disappointing way.

But who would listen during the cheering

To a Jeremiah who feels the nails

Of mortality cutting through his hands?

“Can we not just for a couple of hours,

͚Rejoice͛, raise our eyes from the trail of dung,

And bellow our anthems of delusion?

You who sit in comfort may discover

Joy in finely turned lines of tragedy,

In the bleak beauty of heroic death,

Or the sunlit fairy tale of rolled tombstones.

We must turn back to disease, to the diet

Of subsistence, to the cruel hand of power

And the certainty of an unmarked grave.

Why should we not wave our palms at an ass?

Why not thumb our noses at the powerful

As they sip wine and cant hypocracies?͟”

So Truth must smile at denial’s courage

And forgive the raging calls of the mob.

Parenthood

 

 

She stood there with a smile.

The pain of loneliness

Draining her spirit while

Around her, the duress

Of her life’s work dispels.

 

Or so it seemed to her,

Husband already dead,

Precious moments wither

And scatter in her head

And become muffled bells.

 

Her girls are one defence

Against the loss of hope;

But ties that bind are tense,

And as they pull more rope

They must leave her behind.

 

But we are all bereft

Sadness comes as a test;

Only when tears have left,

Free-flowing, can the zest

Spring sharply from the rind.