panes of glass

I divide my long day between
the panes of glass that make up
the French doors that open onto
the patio and walled garden
where once I walked
without a care in the world
for the number of years
left unknown to me

each pane measures 9 x 7
or thereabouts, wooden framed
I give each one equal time
for each one holds a different view
of sky here and tree over there
buildings, roofs, windows
lawn and plants and washing line
colours changing by the hour

which is why I repeat the process
over and over morning till night
seven days a week over and over
only taking time off for surreptitious dozing
my pillows are fluffed up by someone
my body is propped up like a subsiding home
oh look – another story unveiling itself
a raven has landed in pane number 5 . . .

 

a death in a zen garden

she found him next to Buddha and his two attendants
arms and legs outstretched like a beached starfish

the gravel had been freshly raked to outline his body
an unlikely death scene in a serene zen garden

some say his master had orchestrated his funeral
others that the truth was known only to the willows

but next day his body was gone and the gravel raked
in patterns resembling waves and rippling water

only the words of his poetry and songs were echoed
the meaning of it all concentrated in the ensuing silence

she that had meant everything and nothing to him
taking her own last breath and reaching for his hand

isn’t this the way death dreams our eternal slumber?
on the point of everlasting meditation, of no return?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reverie

the agapanthus sways upon the wind’s reverie
as if fishing for your thoughts when you lean sideways
hand clasped on the brass bird’s head that adorns
your walking stick, you forget why you came here
this was your garden after all, but somehow
it doesn’t feel like yours anymore
for there are strangers fitting safety handles
and filling up your space with chatter
like so many swifts that congregate like swirling angels
if only you could raise your head high enough
to take them all in
you know they are waiting there for you
but for now you content yourself with studying the grass
and shushing the voices that come to you on the wind
when only the faintest scent is discernible
from the agapanthus that sways upon your reverie

Ghosts

She can’t walk round the block

Because the pavement is uneven

She can’t get to the corner shop

Because there is no pedestrian crossing

She’s a prisoner in her own home

Despite having worked hard all her life

She’s dependent on the goodwill

Of her friends and neighbours

Her husband has long passed away

And her sons live abroad

She always thought they’d be there for her

The loneliness has turned to depression

Being stuck indoors has made her frail

She’s on a list for some help she thinks

But every day is more of a bother

Every day gets longer and longer

She worries about her garden

Will the man come and cut the grass

Should she pay for this and that

There’s no one to ask

Her head gets in a mess

She’s tired of fighting

She talks to ghosts instead

They crowd her bedroom each morning

Appear in odd places throughout the day

Quite good company really

She knows them all by name

She’s looking forward to being with them permanently

That’s the only thing she’s sure of

It’s all she has to look forward to

Her life has come to this

seems like I’ve been here before

not one living soul passed by during the night
no tracks or traces left in this unforgiving wilderness
I search for clearings but only briars are forthcoming
soon the mist may clear and the path become visible
onward and upwards my journey takes me

~

at least everything is turning green
I notice gardeners are getting their fingers dirty
robins plucking worms from between their feet
the skies are widening and the air is warmer

but I know for some

darkness hangs over them still
a few more months needed for them to catch up, maybe
at least everything is turning green
that’s something

~
(written for someone who just wants to feel better,
who wrote on their blog: At least everything is green here)
a nod also to New Order – the fab early years post Joy Division.

it’s fate that takes us in the end

i’ve locked the door
afraid the wind will find me
push autumn litter through the letter box
howling like a fox on heat at midnight
when the streetlamps highlight her red hair
and scent fills the town with trepidation

i’m afraid of stalkers
ghosts from the past who whistle down the decades
finding cracks in the plaster of my flaking memories
shaking fists and hurling furies at my windows
that i whitewash over and hide behind
like shops that have gone belly-up and bankrupt

i discourage the postman
allow the garden to overgrow
the nettles and brambles build a barricade
the rooks stand guard in their watchtowers
they warn me when the rusty gate talks to them
wrens gather in chimes

i am but a shadow
a smudge of wood ash fingerprinted on the paintwork
a rent in a moth-eaten tapestry on which
faded stags rear in the face of sudden death
the hunters’ arrows drawing blood from their necks
it’s fate that takes us in the end

 

Larkin’s Hedgehog

The garden is such a sad place to be
Where once a creature dared to cough
Like a cancer patient impatient for tea
Scoffing down worms and shuffling off
Sloughing soil from his house of fleas

The business of mowing too is ghastly
Dust and pollen irritating oesophagus
Sneezing and wheezing under bay tree
From my attic window I hear him cuss
The hedgehog wedged. An amputee.

 

(Philip Larkin was born on this day in 1922. From 1956 to 1974 he rented a second floor flat in Hull, England. He died in 1985 of¬†oesophageal cancer. My poem is a reimagination of these basic facts and two of his poems – ‘Home is so Sad’ and ‘The Mower’. Hope you like it)