A C Clarke

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.

    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.