I’ll take you to an island, any
Greek island town with winding
uphill paths, and as we reach
the highest, steepest bend,
steady yourself. Catch your breath
and turn, be careful of your footing, the stones
are loosening in the crumbling earth,
and there it is:
the line of trees,
the simple line of trees
I want to show you.
So small, so far, you hardly know
what shape they are, though these nearby
amongst those terraces perhaps you recognise
as olives? The green of these is soft,
exquisite to the touch and eye, if eyes
could feel the things they see.
I holiday much less these days.
But that isn’t what I miss you for,
those little Englands, lazy Autumn evenings
in the Spanish islands.
You never could have tried these paths
– never would have chosen to –
left tired by all your own old steepnesses;
but the far trees, see, before the dark light falls,
how they glisten like sapphires
setting off the world.
I wish … That is …
I just wanted to show you
something innocent this way comes.
No learned cynicism, no imminent threat.
See it as some long-haired girl not tanned yet
looking to do some good in the world.
Maybe she wants to be a paramedic.
Bike it in fast to where only a bike can get.
She wants to save a body at least
if not a soul.
Let it be catching. Let it come to us all
like an infection.
Let it be this Local
as the saints and angels
of our every day.
We are the cells it needs
to go viral.
Lost now, I suspect,
not seen these dozen years.
Enchanting, the rough vivid lines
creased rouches of rose petals.
Remembered too, there was
uncertainty to the roundness of the bowl
beneath the neck, chill light
of a winter afternoon
falling harsh this side,
the other, certainty
seeing the light now
– seeking the light now –
less and less. And Lily’ hands
waxy, slipping along
these clumsy crayons, yet leaving
behind them an undiminishable brightness
of lit blue, purple, orange, such red
roses, the green of their leaves
pulsing still, still
responding to her breath.
Snow the pillow snow the cloud
snowed-in snow the jailer snow the shroud
snow the weapon that selects you hurts you laughs out loud
(oh, yes…! that same snow that cried incessantly before it froze)
snow the bright smiler the dead of winter’s glitzy clothes
its curves its sonsie sashayer its belles
– and beaus – it doesn’t care – it only knows it’s here
can’t wait to flaunt its frisky cheer-you-up
and show you just how innocent magnificent
a dirty boy or girl can be – it’s snow!
It has its flaws and foibles just like every angel
every all-grown-up each saint each one of you and me
it doesn’t like assumptions as to who or what
– or how obedient to conformity – it ought to be
Don’t you remember being snow?
Snow the beautiful the fearsome intruder snow
the ASBO snow you’re stuck with snow that makes demands
the funside snow that wants to play and never tires snow
you may as well admire – if not its naive adolescent stand
at least its all-star-cast-we’re-only-here-till-Friday
fabulous flip-you-sideways show.