mother tongue

the blackbird sings to me
his native thought

in that mother tongue

I knew
before I had voice to speak

in riddles

to the London trees
dwarfed between tall towers

the jar

I found an old jar in her kitchen
that for long had remained unused

it was like one I remembered from childhood
that I used to cling on to

the trees in my mother’s garden were many and beautiful
though she lived in a small apartment
by the sea

of the silent guest at her table
she would talk to her family

yes the trees in my mother’s garden were beautiful
but the jar
I threw into the sea

of the silent guest at her table
the sea has no memory

navigation 

when conversation became difficult
I made for the shelter of the trees
looking back across the sun-bleached field
to where the party was in full swing
appreciating the amplitude of tall silences
that I could navigate more easily

from there I could see you slowly circling
coming to rest
before finally heading out

navigation

ascertaining a position
calculating the most favourable route
between one point and another

even when there is no point at all

navigation

just moving around

it takes skill

practice

finesse

when even gentle waters
can seem treacherous

safer amid trees

they don’t move around

at least don’t appear to

I whispered a quiet thank you
and plotted a course back

done with trees

two trees
they may be cedars
between the ridge and me
one is tall and straight
the other leaning slightly

I focus on the first
and breathe
accept the peace it brings

feel good
renewed
I stretch my arms
and then feel bad again

that’s meditation for you
what more can I say
it takes some time
I took the time
now I’m done with trees
for today

clearing

often his walk took him to the same spot
as if to an assignation

a clearing in the trees
where he expected nothing
and received nothing
while retaining in his heart
the most foolish of emotions
the feeling that he would be healed

as easily as taking off an old jacket
and going back to find another

which is fanciful
but there is more to life than one knows

and more to the dreams of the broken
than one might imagine

the churchgoer

a crow cries out
from an ancient yew
its purpose unknown
to those passing through
there far longer
than the church it adjoins
only the churchgoer understands
only old churchgoing crow

[first posted Feb 8, 2015]

twilight on Ashridge

twilight on Ashridge
and I am forgetting everything
to reflect upon
the thick mixture of mud
and deer droppings
I have just stepped in

who I was
what I’ve left undone
my way back through these woods
so rich in beech and oak
where I come to walk the dog
and have my quiet smoke

looking back
I remember feeling
much the same in youth
hemmed in by thought and mood
imprisoned and yet lost
I turn to find I am watched
thin velvety antlers
not long from the pedicle
barely discernible
amongst the twiggery
of this ancient world
that in a few short weeks
will change into something
thin and brittle as
a pensioner
with a purse full of coppers
that at last opens
then won’t close

well
we all find closure eventually
ready or not

now
one snap from me and he is off
prancing free
back to the herd
where he belongs
and where
if truth be told
I have always been at odds