Here is a selection of my poetry for MARCH
Our blackthorn has been wonderful this year,
each hedge I passed seemed blanketed in snow.
The trees, like white sails, billowed over lanes
and verges… and the celandines’ bright show.
A gusting wind sprang up to shake the hedge,
bending the trees to rock them to and fro,
releasing blossom in a blizzard fall,
surprising horse and rider just below.
As drifts of snow-white petals filled the lane
the parting clouds revealed a watery sun;
although the signs of Spring were in the air,
the cold wind warned that Winter’s not yet done…
Now, seasons on, the hedge bears blue-black sloes,
As bitter as that wind from long ago.
Beneath a mass of threatening cloud,
I’m wrapped against the forecast snow
as I stride out across Larks Hill.
Below, the streaming vehicles groan
down Harvest Ride and on to town.
Yet here, above the traffic’s drone,
comes birdsong over tussocked grass —
too far to carry from the hedge
but clear above the gusting blast.
Casting about this grassy space
I spot them, dots against the sky,
riding in air too cold for snow,
braving this February day.
Whilst others shelter in the hedge,
these tiny crested, feathered scraps
defy the worst that Winter brings.
Miraculous, daredevil birds
sing out a challenge and a prayer :
an invocation to the Spring.
Riding spring tides, sucked into Severn’s mouth,
they’ve braved Atlantic storms to swarm upstream :
this mass of squirming grey translucency,
glass eels, whose every heartbeat can be seen.
Rare pike and wading herons eat their fill,
and, on ebb tides at night, lone fishermen
come out with lights, attract this shoal
close to the banks and dip-nets’ caging pens.
Spring’s river harvest time in bygone days
saw elver-eating contests at the pub;
sold cheaply by the pint to working men,
these baby eels were starving families’ grub.
Today, ‘though fewer make the nets, the catch,
a writhing, frothy mass, is ferried home
by van in plastic tanks and old tin baths
to sell, as special Easter treats, to gastronomes.
(Down Warfield Lanes)
On murky mornings and grey days
winter motorists passing through
hurriedly wind their windows down
to lose their litter in the gloom.
Now, in the first bright glint of Spring,
like soiled washing in the breeze,
polythene cloaks the blackthorn hedge.
Along the roadside broken glass
where fox and badger soon will tread.
Crushed cans and wrappers coat the verge,
daffodils struggle to be seen —
Smokers die young, the packet says —
but better if it read, Stay Green!
In candy pink and bridal white
the orchards high on Winters Hill
stand proud against a cloudless sky –
define this fine St. George’s Day.
Close by the bridge, at Spencer’s church,
a red cross flutters in the breeze;
first swallows turn above the Thames
where swan flotilla glides downstream.
A solitary boat drifts on;
two walkers, with a map and dog,
seem set to walk on to Bourne End,
leaving behind a crow and me…
Perched on a rotting willow trunk,
nodding and bowing to the stream,
he seems to concentrate so hard
watching the water’s glassy sheen.
Then, suddenly, he takes to flight –
matching his wing beats to the breeze,
he seems to hover in the air
and touch the tops of waves mid-stream
to snatch from waters some small prey.
Retiring to the other bank,
he eats his meal in privacy
before returning to his tree.
Twice more this fishing crow performs
then flies off to a distant oak –
leaving in mind a miracle :
a memory, a puff of smoke.
It was the first still day of Spring
I came across you by the lake.
For mirrored, lonely, lovely girl
it seems a secret solitude –
a mood, perhaps, I should not break.
I watched you bending to the pool,
bright celandines smiled up at you,
a princess letting down her hair
to rippling mirror of the mere
as breezes kissed the water there.
You are your loveliest in Spring –
so why be sad, why do you weep?
Most feminine of all the trees
please let your tresses cascade down :
as crimped coiffure and verdant gown.
Exotics, on dull Lenten days,
outflank drab sparrows’ dismal show
with tinkling, bell-like calls in flight
and flash of gold as off they go –
a charm of finches bob the hedge.
Pushed to the margins of the farms
where tractors spray with herbicides,
goldfinches seek untended scenes
for spiky teasels, thistledown
and groundsels’ tiny wind blown seeds.
Kept as a charm against the plague,
then caged for beauty and for song,
they almost died out in the wild
till keeping them was seen as wrong
and Parliament came to their aid.
Yet, down the ages they’ve appeared
in pictures of the infant Christ :
companions for a tiny child,
as symbols of the sacrifice
and passion that was yet to come…
These sweet-voiced, gold-winged tiny birds
pulled out the thorns to free Christ’s crown.
In doing so, his blood was spilled
and blessed them with a love profound –
marking cheeks red as sacred birds.