Message of hope? Maybe I’m too old to see hope in a fallen leaf, So many recycled seasons such dwindling belief. Windfalls lie scattered under the apple tree. Shattered branches tripwire the path. It is hard to see through the mist. The manmade lake, scummed as ever, stretches its green unbroken surface to the little weir which tumbles down stones laid decades ago. My stiff limbs can manage the deer stile but for how much longer? Laughter of crows in the tall trees. Seems a fair while since I heard songbirds. The poem I read today affirms it’s not too late: a fountain will spring from the heart of a stone if you only wait.
Soul-Portrait My soul, draped like a lost mitten on a fencepost --Gregory Pardio from Giornata How would my soul look? A patchwork thing fashioned from odds and ends in an offcut bin, scraps which don’t match, a garish patch of scarlet jarring against pale green, stripes jostling spots, the whole mess held together with clumsy seams by a left-hander. It’s held though. Only in dreams has anyone a soul whose shades all blend, nothing to snag the eye. Why should I mind the ragged stitching? I draw my lack of pattern around my shoulders. Cold is coming soon my only refuge is my battered quilt patched out of hope and fear, threaded with love and guilt.
To an unknown flower After the carol I sing of a maiden I sing of a flower that is nameless and beautiful. Her grace lies in stillness and the humble places she chooses to dwell, a verge, the base of a fence. She opens herself to strangers, her violet flowerheads messengers of full life and the innocence of growing things, whose silence rebukes our haste and daily strain. She knows how to die. And when.
A C Clarke’s fifth collection is A Troubling Woman (Oversteps 2017). She was a winner in the Cinnamon Press 2017 pamphlet competition with War Baby. Wedding Grief, centred on the marriage of Paul Éluard and Gala, was published by Tapsalteerie in 2021.