Nocturne for a giant
I snapped the words.
I stored them
like petrol in winter in the boot of a car
green plastic container just touching the spade
half-obscured by a rough blanket.
She said This is a poem about sheep.
I remember a time when sheep remained miraculous
dirty snow mounted on slender pillars
punctuated by fishy yellow eyes.
She said This is a song for trees.
They stand on the brim of gorse-and-heather hollows
do you recall the little boy in the dry gorse
how he was covered with needles –
how do you stay serious at that?
I clutched a shining oyster in my palm.
She said This is not a poem about love.
I said I am half in love with you.
Where are the swarms of bees now that winter has arrived
in arid splendour? Where are their powdery blooms
of pollen? Where is the buzz and click of wings unfeathered?
Only the birds fly now – the bees are all asleep.
Like a nocturne played in firelight they are singing
weak sunlight has them singing bedraggled as they are
they are bedraggled and singing in firelight.
Only the fire sings now – the birds are all asleep.
Like a bird spitting seeds the fire spits sparks.
Where are they rising to splinters on the frozen air
bright and lightful as powdery blooms of pollen?
Prayer bells glister.
The steepest hills are where the giants sit,
their seats are carved from earth and moss
they watch the land below them mould
itself to weather’s contours –
I climbed up there to see the forest grow
and block a mountain with my thumb.
A curlew called and skylarks shot
puny whistles into low-flying
pigeons and clouds – all the same I
wearied and went home.
October the first
To one side fire
Blown from the east
smoking the grasses dry
a biting wind catching
darkly, slashing the meadows
green and bright with sun
stripping trees –
to early autumn –
The bones of things emerge
And they are brightening
they are stripped and cleaned
waxing gold and honey
the voices chant in unison
they are singing optimistically
of lives not yet broken
of the past
days not gilded
they are singing of the future
of birds dropping feathers –
of cycles incomplete –
She asked me what it looked like
Love in glory here, the year harvested
what love in glory looked like
in bright memories and sticky fruit
I said it looks like the other side of being
alive and in love
the other side of being alive-
when the red fruit falls.
Image by Rick Payette