a single brown misshapen leaf
hanging on above the mulch
wind-blown dry and withering
exposed and waiting for its frost
gave scant concealment
for the candled buds
harbinging spring as yet unborn;
it fell today
I was born and raised and live uplands
on rolling hills and open moors,
bare and edging wild and comfortably worn,
but sought connection by the river side:
a sweeping flooding lowland drain
crewed by 8s 4s pairs / and single sculls.
I stood alone and open / below
the crossing of the broadening reach
that stretches left downstream
and lives and scares in equal measure:
deep and swift and rising / to encompass
rowers, swimmers – and the drowned.
I walked in the rain, I stalked along
the auburn decked embankment,
a yellow flecked containment
of an autumn season’s flow;
I played my part, to arouse sorcery
with a tall and slender southern belle….
To join / in brief intense encounter
to fall / over the river’s edge
to reach / across the riverbank
to touch, as one / who’s swept away….
…. coursing with the rhythm of the cycle
that marks out who we are….
Swept free! By currents welling from below,
sourced in vein-traced clear chalk aquifers,
fed through downland confluence / swollen
by the month’s run-off, today’s rainfall
and what else lies beneath / remote
from what’s reflected on the surface.
The high road looked attractive then, and different –
a noble prospect of escape and opportunity:
a sure laconic fast-track to success, in a future
that would thrive on merit and good fortune.
And away: From small-town strictures and constraints
contained within a worn out past,
from the voices who had led and nurtured us
and the sirens that had formed us;
from the grounds on which we’d lightly walked
when we first met the world.
Now youth: Where have you gone? Spent
on aspirations and conformity to others’ expectations
with outcomes fingered shakily, perhaps indelibly,
in a pale grey scalpel trace of memory.
Leaving us: Continuing, to elude or to confront
a dilemma woven deeply in the fibre
of exiles’ recurring thoughts of home: To forever mourn
the lost homeland, or make the best of it and carry on?
Mourning? In futility, but unavoidably,
to experience what we cannot bear but have invited in;
we – the rootless, the dispossessed, the disinherited
with our (bittersweet and plangent) longings
for no-longer-knowns we feel but keep unseen
and tenderly describe as being all that there once was –
we are waiting in forlorn agonies of wishing, hoping
for a moment that will never come.
And anyway, we carry on, because we do;
until we find release, until we are renewed.
Through mile after mile and traffic
I delivered her things –
those things I’d salvaged from our wreck
a long year since.
Weird upon weird, hot metal, cold rain,
and driven on – aye aye aye – and on.
Delivered in the darkening dreich
of a poorly auspiced autumn’s day.
The debris was delivered / handed over at the kerb
in a briefest encounter / of deepest mistake:
brushed past, brushing off, and then gone
in diesel fumes: we’d thought that it was good.
Complex people speaking simple words –
her face now bare, mine fully bearded –
dressed differently, too sensitive and
not making sense, except in enmity;
poles apart / magnetically opposed,
trapped by the past / by actions past sense,
badly drawn and badly done and maladroit.
Restless and headstrong, headstrong controller,
our story shared / of pain and loss and axes of hostility
ended with an axe of iron / hewn into my soul:
AND STILL WRONG!
I did my best. By God, I did my best.
In the face, the teeth, of withheld thanks.
Never-thanked / and then sucked dry.
Not that it matters now.
Now I’ve reached that journey’s end,
a necessary ending for that state, of those affairs:
I’ve demonised the person / I’d consorted with.
Debris delivered. Free at last.