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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

Llangammarch Blaze

There now, lay it all down,
The soft memory and the memory of hard bone.
After the year’s first true frost
A dead sheep lies in the field becoming a dance of hawks and ravens.
And on a lonely hillside unremarked
A blaze has born the babies away.
A smudge of smoke and the light of morning
Is no prayer of peace to ones who wait
Empty-hearted for better news.
The village, warm now in sun, silent.
Thoughts unthought of before – friends vanished,
Those known, now unplaced, a hollowness
Around memory clung to.
It is an uncertain anchor to hold on to –
This world that blinks apart from day to day.
Should we rise and flow like the oak leaves
On the cold dark currents of the Irfon?
Or wrap around like ivy, cling like lichen bloom
To this weathered stone.
We are a thin soil that the wind will blow and the waters leach.
The babies are gone who should be dancing.
The mothers silent, slowly dissappearing.
Pick it back to the bare bones.
Feed the world with our ripped out sorrow.
We are nothing. But we were loved.
Once named, now melted back to everything.
A thin soil on scarred stone.
Golden are the tree tops, a palest blue sky.
The ravens dance in their ring, in and out,
While the sun still shines,
While the sun still shines.

written as the news was emerging about the great and tragic loss in our small village. A family house destroyed by fire in the night, a few children escaping, but many more lost. Llangammarch now besieiged by hordes of prying press and film crews.

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The green grasses heaped and peaceful, as they always are,
Steeped and shaped by nibbling sheep, bowing, pausing, moving on
Like writers, like painters, considering the sound,
Chewing over the bitter and the sweet,
The limp sorrow, the tight-wound grief,
The bound and binding pain not forgot:
Not forgot though buried deep in heaps across the hills.

The buzzard cries and red kite wheels for the recklessness of princes.
Ancient trees so uprooted, excised, their long shadows lost
And peasant weeds happy for short moments in sunlight once more,
Before the whining scythe of war steals life and land that cannot ever be owned.

This sorry foreign tongue wanders uncertain paths
Around lost sound and buried names.
Those gone before now hood their eyes to listen by the warm hearth of God.
I await, as always, their sure narration, its flow and lilt as if my own:
A habit of work and weather, of sewing in twilight,
In beer that eases ache of long labour
And puts by for a while the winds of winter
And the haunt-eyed want that loiters,
Hanging its dark shade by every byre and door.

I know where I myself would be
To soothe and polish the grain-edged slate of sorrow.
Down with the world’s roar at Pwll Bo, its throat of rock slaked and scoured.
I would be rain-cooled, too, in the smoke cloud of Cwm Dwfnant,
Forever under the big hills staring bare into God’s blank blue face.
I would crouch, nostrils spiced with fern and fir
And the damp drip from the birch, itself turning silver and gold
From each and every early frost.
Below where the hidden boys are ever hunting their courage,
Learning to kill for bitter whim of distant government,
Watched by raven eye and silent nested hare.

All beaten down, we have flocked to the cities to be sold for pennies.
Huddled there believing safety is numbers from the wilds and curves of the world.
All winnings, though, are desolate or requisitioned, elbowed out, of course, by the mighty.
Rephrased, remapped, remade, the hills are worn down by the measuring,
(Though they clutch still their gold, their own cheese and milk,
Their own paths downward to certain golden summer
Where the hounds, red-eared, hunt the dreams of heroes.)

Crouched like God’s old hound, the church of Llangammarch,
Perched on its very own hill, push-toed between streams,
A confluence of dark and light, washed in gravels, the quick dippers and lowing cattle.
There above the porch, cut deep in fragmented stone is carved
The old fight between the four corners of the world and the spiral twist of eternity.
And we look on, tangled in, amazed, forever wanting what is neither this nor that.
But listen. There is no more to fight for where we have found our home,
Where we breathe in and out all weathers, the hills of rolling meaning
And the churchtops of exaltation, asleep in sunlit valleys,
Companions with the living and the dead, a ripened mulch, a song worth singing.

2015/09/img_1718.jpg

The image is from an old early medieval carving now above the doorway of the church in Llangammarch Wells

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jindai treetops2

Here is the final part of this long piece I started on my arrival in Japan last week. It was a lot longer than I expected, but then grief and loss, death and life, love and longing are big subjects.
I have been working from an old notebook so it has taken longer to transcribe and post than usual. Maybe now I will start some slightly more jolly haiku!

JAPANESE SYMPHONY, EIGHTH MOVEMENT, ‘Uguisu’

i do not know ho we can stay.
little bush warbler, i do not know
how it is we can remain.

i am drunk upon your water-clear song.
i am full of white tears for lost worlds.

i do not know how we can remain
so diminished, so lost.

within the song is always silence.
within the sorrow, something else,
something else.

we go, must go,
we cannot stay
forever looking at sunsets and weeping,
in the cool clarity of summer stars.

we are clothed in your song,
little warbler, drunk and raining,
wingless on bare branches.
blades of grass, single petal falling,
we shudder and break
into a thousand pieces.

i do not know how we remain.
we are not who we were,
nor who we are
nor who we could have been,
little bird.

it lies in sorrow, little bird.
it lies forgotten between us, little bird.
it lies between if only and never.

breath comes in and goes out.
joy and sorrow, the flickering breath:
the light and shade of this life.
how can we remain?

song only comes as we expire,
breathe out, let go.
the beautiful voice, little bird,
escaping, gone,
no longer belonged,
no longer belonging.
offered.

memory and forgetting –
the only gifts
we have ever owned.

—–

shady pool1

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JAPANESE SYMPHONY: 7th MOVEMENT, ‘NEVER GONE’

i shall tell you something,
i shall whisper it:

she is not gone.

that echoed voice,
that memory:
her touch still
as it flows by.
that sudden bloom of feeling:
the turn of her love
towards you.

unlocked from time
we inhabit all our moments,
all our dearest places.

free of this small gravity
radiant as sun and moon
unburdened by horizons,
shade or shadow.

ever in each past,
each future, each present.
become bed and mother
of all indwelling,
scented on every breeze,
blossoming and blossoming
and blossoming eternal.

each pulse is hers, each step,
each tear, each smile.

she is not gone.
we are not gone.
closer than heartbeats,
closer than breath,
the air and whisper of existence,
(as we ever were,
as you ever are).

for but a tragic instant
hedged and deluded,
sweet prison of expression:
a whisper before it leaves the mouth,
before it finds a home.

we should sit down
and weep,
speak of nothing else
but silence,
nothing but the moments.

she is returned
blessing all things
with memories,
with joys and pains,
all the sharp is-ness
of bodies.
jewels to pass down,
fuel for futures.

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4.MOON AND MEMORY

there is no limit to the stretch of words
yet they shall snap back to the punch of present,
piquant, drenched, unpersuaded:
the insistent knot and never of this loss.

four times
(since severed heart turned stone, hope faded),
four times the moon has drained the palest light,
punctured, bled out, trespassed, wilted.

four times, too,
risen, filled, flowered again.
memory and forgetting is the long answer to all.
the longest of views: a levelling balm, recycled effulgence,
finally ingested, become ornament and unbound.

rippled eternal edge,
each falling is a misunderstood choreography –
taking wing, pushing out, interrogated possibility.
an orbit. a turning away and a turning towards.

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P1090084
3 The Undefined

between definitions
death turns us all
time-travellers,
hunting echoes
in edgeless canyons.

becoming poets
searching flavour:
the right words
for a gesture, a phrase,
a filling of empty spaces.

actions dissipate,
colours fail in their purpose.
the emptiness of hollowness
(a mimic, a clue, a joke,
of real emptiness
from which we come and go,
come and go).

a dream of reaching:
unable to find
our
own hands.

P1090073

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2. TO THE EDGES OF EMPTINESS

the thunder of departing
Doppler skies.
the descending chant
of iron birds.

when those eyes
disappear,
when that voice
can no longer be heard,
(though deep inside every second
of every hour, like the scent
of something lost,
familiar from childhood)
our edges blur,
focus becomes irrelevant.
we become the lost,
the fading,
unaware of
where we are and were.

formed, framed each day
by that voice, that look, that smile.
its absence a gaping hole,
heart, soul and stars rush through
to unanaesthetised emptiness.
diminished by each second of absence
emptying into that space
where your scent and memory lingers
for a moment, still.

so, you have gone,
and taken,too, the one real world
along with you.
leaving a changeling, a perfect simulacrum,
devoid of feeling.
a mechanical resemblance,
a world as if nothing
had changed: sunlight,
laughter, time moving.
even the finest detail,
ants, dust motes, petals,
all hollow, purposeless.


temple precinct
by the incense bowl
two old ladies wafting smoke
to all their aching joints, aching bones,
laughing.

flopping amongst green shadows
black crow hunting for food.
cries from bright tree tops

old man dozing
clouds of incense
priest’s voice chanting

—-

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