(Flora Twort: 1893-1985)
During that time, she woke to the horses
Passing under her window and followed
Later, their straw plaited manes. Like faces
In the sky's crumbling landscape, she noticed
Other things as she put up her easel
At the Taro Fair. But the words which led
Her had been that way before and were first
To leave, though they ran along her fingers,
Quietly counting the syllables. All
She saw was enough; all they gave, disguise.
That was when the conversations ended,
On a hot day in the stares of gypsy
Children, when the lake water responded
As if moved by her brush, when life became
The true miracle and she saw the grey
In the white, the white in the grey. And so
Easy, the horses, moving in a time
Almost forgotten, across her canvas
To another place that retained its eye
And watched the marvel growing in her face.
or how Django Reinhardt, his left hand mutilated, brought the music to an end.
Returning late from the Dockyard,
Mr Spickernell left his bike
Bumping and barking down the side
wall. Steam from his tea cup
Harmonised, a kind of music,
And the snug fire clicked its needles
softly as we tuned up.
Notes hung on their stems in huddles –
“Pick them in bunches,” he whispered
As I peeled them with my plectrum
One by one and, past the score, peered
at the smoky knitting
Collapsing up the chimney. Warm
Enough in the music, later
he’d roll up his sleeves, swing
Improvised runs through a twelve bar
Riff. Or he’d play a prized record,
Ignoring how it hissed at him,
And follow on where it faded,
his mad fingers running
After the vanished tune. Then came
The evening he played Django’s
Parfum. The needle’s long
Complaint grew soft and all was gauze
Through which the music spread, leaving
No residue. Silent, Mr
Spickernell touched every string
on his guitar, gave them
Tactile instructions not to stir.
The record stopped. “My God!” he said,
“two fingers and a thumb!” –
Stared into the fire and shivered.
At that time of evening,
light hung between the seven trees,
conveying stillness and a softening
and something by which to measure the days.
Occasionally, cats and birds
were transfigured in its spreading
but I stayed with my bookshelves and cupboards
and turned on my angled lamp for reading.
And different altogether,
it lifted words from the pages,
leaving the other light shapes to gather
that weren’t words or defined by their edges.
Yet what they were was too far off
and not open to eye or touch
so I turned from them as from things unsafe
or a beauty too dangerous to watch.
Now I’m older and take the air
at dusk, find a sense that quickens
with the insects and, mislaying my fear,
it’s the light among the trees that beckons.
In the heat except these shore crabs,
Tossed like children’s badges on the swept mud,
And where there is shadow, it floats,
A ragged shirt over the ribs
Of silt. I stood on this path once, near mad
With cold, and wind would not let me
Pass, flexing like a metal sheet
And pushing me back to the road. Today
It’s dead crabs keep me company
And there’s no breeze at all to set
The liquid horizon. And if I die
Today, where there is space round me
And I don’t fit, and in this place
Which has no end, I would prefer my death
To be with the crabs, carelessly
Scattered, random as sea asters
Or the flight of the redshank, maybe worth
Exactly what makes them or me
Part of this. I’m too close to cool
Water even to notice the heat sting
Me and too far away to see
The sails of old Halnaker Mill
Still multiplying nothing with nothing.