For a year I have been thinking about getting back to fitness with each run I take but back is surely the wrong word to choose when ahead is where the gift of full recovery lies. And today the lane I am running along reminds me that neither word serves and it is only the now of the cow parsley, the fields of beans, the North Downs holding up a sun-bright sky that matters, this moment, this breath
I want to say so much about
this oak and these first bluebells
but what can I say that you
don't already see and feel yourselves?
The weight of that trunk hunkering
over the frail brushstrokes of colour.
You might even imagine their barely
perceptible scent soon to be booming
through the woods. We are comforted
in these moments, aren't we? The reliable
return of Spring. By beauty.
The way our small hearts sing.
Above me the first shimmer of green
in the splayed branches. At my feet
these steadfast little gifts. I want to
believe in a world that can change and heal.
What I see
The railway bridge’s shadow staircase
rising diagonally on the opposite side of the cut
reminds me I cannot always be sure
of what I see, or what I think I see.
Or at least understand that even light
can sometimes lead me in the wrong direction.
The Old and the New
What remains in the Afan of an old wooden wharf
overlooked by wind turbines crowning the mountain.
The castellated look-out tower at the docks dwarfed
by the unloading cranes in the deep harbour.
The timeless and relentless tides held back by
giant tumbles of rock along the steps of the prom.
This is what we are made of too: the old and the new,
what we were, what we’ve done, what we have become.
Some days we look back with a heartful of regrets,
others, we are brimming with gifts a new day has brought.
The past is always with us. Change sits at every horizon.
We can only do our best to carry and welcome them both.
For Mam, 1st December 1932 ~ 25th March 2021
Grief keeps changing its shape – a weight
like a kilo bag of sugar compressing my lungs,
sometimes a water smoothed stone that fits
perfectly in the palm of my hand. Yesterday
the heaviest of winter coats that refused
to keep out the chill. Today, I woke and heard
birdsong through the early morning mist
and remembered the last words you wrote
the month before you died – It’s good
to be positive and looking ahead, Lynne.
So here I am running the lanes looking for
all the things I would have shared with you:
the planting of young laurels along the hedgerow
on St Vincent’s Lane, the way the moss
has grown sparsely on one side of the stone bridge
but thickly on the other, and how someone
has laid a plank across the stream to cross
from bank to bank. I think I understand now
that grief remains with us. And I never had to say,
Don’t go, please stay, because you never left me.
Mam, the white wood anemones are like
a carpet of stars. Soon, the bluebells.
2nd day of Spring
No one shouts about
the 2nd day of Spring.
The 1st day takes all the credit
for just being, well, the 1st.
But let’s celebrate being 2nd today –
the determination to keep going
when you know there is
no fanfare waiting for you
when the cheering
has stopped and it’s up to you
to congratulate yourself
for the effort you made
and no one can say that’s
worth less than what is ahead
or behind you. Each day
another burst of fragile scent
from the apricot blossom.
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