Poem: St. Peter’s On The Rocks

float

When the wind blows,
All trees sing the song of the sea,
No matter how mainlanded they are

Widow-maker willows lure men in
With their fake bird calls –
A life lost in the felling of a tree,
And the crumbling masonry of a sick-bed
Church, filled with the wires and tubes of
Life-support scaffolding, which the wind ever
Wrestles to the winnowing ground

In the face of flooding, pews become pedalos,
And priests float down the River on algae-bound
Bibles – all the farm land around is now an expanse
Of Atlantis, and the crowns of even the tallest of trees
Are but the conspiracies of saplings and weeds

But the horses will not be tolerant of this –
As soon as they hear the gallop of the flood plains approach,
They forfeit the ground, and betake their hooves to the air,
And the horsemen of the Apocalypse versified in Revelations
Have never seemed so bucolic, so mild

The water is the only thing that sings now,
Set up by the occasional whinnying of sky-born
Equine shriek. And as St. Peter’s, Llanwenarth,
Floats down the centre of this riverine world,
You will find me keeping vigil, in the crenelated tower,
Looking for harbour or home

A floating church,
A floating church,
Sailing on the sky of sea

 

Advertisements

Diary: Wind, Sleep, and Sorrowful Songs

over

The wind certainly does add a touch of drama to everything.

Just before it fully picked up, I observed a bumble bee on a dandelion. It looked like it was clinging on to the flower for dear life. I tried to imagine what the experience must be like from the bee’s perspective; the whole world a-whorl around you; your only haven a golden circumference the elements are ever conspiring to tear you from.

As I crossed a wooden bridge over a marsh, the wind really began to fulminate – not quite King Lear territory, yet – but a nearby Hamlet, perhaps? A legion of black clouds rolled in, in true Roman imperial fashion. Poplar trees were blown into bowing, willows cracking under the pressure like so many arthritic limbs, and the air was suddenly a chaotic mosaic of catkins, leaves, and dandelion seeds – a ballet caught in a tornado.

As I neared home, I moved through a large corridor of brambles that I pass through every day. I’ve been reflecting on how different they look throughout the procession of the seasons. At the moment, they are all re-leafing. There is sumptuous, magisterial quality to them, as though every leaf is a fanfare celebrating the very concept of greenness.

In Winter, they become nature’s equivalent of barbed wire. And if we should ever be so lucky as to experience some snowfall, then they look like giant, gelid spiders, trying to dislodge themselves from some awful frost that has consigned them to petrification as a punishment.

The previous night had not been so peaceful. I could not sleep. I felt sad, lonely, and restlessly in want of human contact –a sleepy embrace to compose a counterpoint to my being. Venus was glaring through the window at me, and I had the radio turned on low to give my maudlin mind something to occupy it.

After some avant-garde Jazz, and a light spell of semi-somulence, I awoke to find them playing Gorecki’s 3rd symphony – ‘A Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ which I had actually been thinking about listening to earlier that day. It seemed the perfect companion to my current state: slow, sombre, and sad, with occasional euphoric bursts of near-prophetic hopefulness.

My favourite moment occurs in the second movement, when, after a gloomy, lingering melody, the hopeful chords at the beginning of the movement return, and the soprano explodes with this call of grief and euphoria which seems to cry out: “WHERE ARE YOU?” Like a lone wanderer on a desolate, war-barren planet, who has just detected the first murmurings of possible love, but does not yet know how to trace them.

(The words are actually an invocation to The Virgin Mary, found on the cell of the Gestapo headquarters, and written by an eighteen year-old girl imprisoned there. But, that sense of crying out for love, for salvation, across long swathes of impossible space, still, unolibteratingly, remains).

When I finally did sleep, I dreamed I was in a strange, video game world, where I was roaming around the winding passageways of a monster-filled sewer. I felt no sense of danger, nor fear. Then I awoke to the sounds of a sparkling piano – thinking of friends I missed – and the birth-song of the wind.