My Welsh Granny

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Poem for the Welsh grandmother
I never really knew

Six o’clock! The cuckoo whirrs its clockwork arrow
from the dark wood of its ambush and the flight
of my granny’s forgotten youth flashes before my eyes
to be buried among the trees. Cats! I can still count
her 1, 2, 3 cats, each one lapping milk from its saucer.

If I close my eyes, I can recall her house, her clothes,
her hair, the very bend of her body bowed over
the ironing board in the kitchen and everywhere,
the sweet and sour smell of white fish bubbling
on the stove for the cats’ supper. The cuckoo clock
strikes again. Each one wounds, the last one…?

Who knows what the last one will bring? Life’s
bitterest blows perhaps? Or missing memories
restored and with them, my granny’s own lost beauty,
with her standing upright, like some glorious flower
illuminated by a sunbeam in the wood’s dark depths.

Eden 1

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Eden 1
(1956 AD)

wet rags of dirty washing
hang on the Siegfried
line’s barbed wire

flesh rent ripped
broken-glass anger bottled
blood-mottled concrete

bones mixer-crushed
blood sacrifice a keep-safe
ash-cross camouflage
stretched sketched
over grime and crime

heavy the spike-toll
rooted the rock
chips off old blocks
these flint flakes flying

faceless this sphinx
inscrutable smile
where now
sands of the Nile

ample ammunition
beneath this apple tree
flat-footed lame-duck walk
goose-stepped after expulsion

walled this garden
to lock what in
to keep who out

 

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By Any Other Name

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By Any Other Name
hortus conclusus
(1430-1432 AD)

don’t let them know
your origins your secrets
hide who and what you are
unholy ghosts will prowl
wild dogs will howl

sister-spouse
a garden enclosed
walled behind whose house
anonymous flowers
roses in abundance
set amongst thorns

sealed-up this fountain now
its well run dry
dead leaves in the bowl
shrunken petals
echoes of children’s voices
their faces hidden
among last year’s leaves

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Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus

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Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus
Happy St. David’s Day

March the First, St. David’s Day:  and here, in Island View, the snow accumulates and I can hardly see the trees at the bottom of the garden. A squirrel gnaws at the sunflower seeds put out by my beloved on the step by the sliding window so that Princess Squiffy, the house cat, can have her morning cartoon show, her Squiff and Squirrel, through the glass of the sliding door. Nose to nose, cat and squirrel, separated only by a thin layer of glass, stare at each other, like Roman gladiators.

Temperatures are still low and snow continues to fall. Softly, gently, it fills the hoof prints left in the old snow by the hungry deer who come each night to empty the bird feeders.  Gone, all gone, everything that squirrel and bird have left behind. Seven deer visit us. They troop through the garden every night, moving from tree line to feeder along regular pathways trodden down by their hooves. Sometimes I see them, in the middle of the night. They cast eerie shadows beneath the moon and startle if I move too fast and they spy me at a window. If I am quiet, I see their delicate muzzles, their long black tongues reaching out to lap up the precious seeds that will keep them going through this long, hard Canadian winter, a winter made even harder this year with its incredible changes, its highs and lows, its rains and snows, its fogs and thaws, its icy rain, then plummeting temperatures with black ice threatening again and again.

St. David’s Day/ Dydd Dewi Sant. In Cardiff / Caer Dydd, the daffodils blow their trumpets beneath already flourishing trees. The Feeder Brook, aka the Black Weir,  flows steadily through Blackweir Gardens to join the Taff  and the Taff runs out to join the Severn, and the Severn flows out into the Irish Sea, and that joins the Atlantic, and the Atlantic flows into the Bay of Fundy, and the River St. John flows past the end of my road to eventually join the Bay of Fundy and then the Atlantic Ocean, and now, on St. David’s Day, we hold hands in a great North Atlantic Wave and we are all united, from snowy sea to shiny sea.

My day-dreams carry me back to Cymru / Wales, that land of song where the wind conducts the daffodils and their pale, brass voices are raised in a hymn of hope that all will be well, that their spring, that was once my spring, will join this spring, that is now my spring, and that sunshine and flowers will triumph and that brighter days will soon return …

Not that these days aren’t bright. A new snake skin of snow covers the ground and the old, sloughed skin gradually disappears as a blank, fresh page invites new footprints.  A new month, a new page, a new beginning.  The signatures of crow and squirrel, Blue Jay and Chickadee, cat and dog appear as if by magic in the garden’s autograph album. A mysterious finger traces those special words Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus / Happy St. David’s Day and the snow continues falling, blanking out all memories from my old man’s mind.

Yellow

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Yellow

Sunshine and daffodils
and my grand-daughter
paddling in the kitchen sink
as her mother washes
the breakfast dishes.

“Sit,” the child says and “stand,”
following the words with actions.

Yellow, she says, yellow,
as daffodils fill the screen
to shine in that far-off kitchen
a thousand clicks away by road
but instantaneous as the child
reaches out to hug the I-Pad.

Yellow, she repeats, yellow.

Soon she will see the daffodils
dancing their spring dance,
snow gone,
beside the lake,
beneath the trees,
yellow, yes, yellow,
tossing their heads
dancing
yellow in the yellow
breeze.

Comment: Another raw poem, straight from the journal, with only minor revisions. We Skyped yesterday and discovered that our grand-daughter had added another word to her vocabulary: yellow. She repeated it again and again, with great joy and energy, as she paddled in the kitchen sink.

Daffodils 3

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Daffodils

For ten long days the daffodils
endured, bringing to vase and breakfast-
table stored up sunshine and the silky
softness of their golden gift.

Their scent grew stronger as they
gathered strength from the sugar
we placed in their water, but now
they have withered and their day’s done.

Dry and shriveled they stand paper-
thin and brown, crisp to the touch.
They hang their heads:
oncoming death weighs them down.

Daffodils

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Daffodils

Winter’s chill lingers
well into spring.
I buy daffodils
to encourage the sun
to return
and shine in the kitchen.

Tight-clenched
fists their buds,
they sit on the table
and I wait for them
to open.

Grey clouds fill the sky.
A distant sun
lights up the land
but doesn’t warm the earth
nor melt the snow.

The north wind
chills the mind,
driving dry snow
across our drive
to settle in the garden.

Our red squirrels
spark at the feeder.
The daffodils
promise warmth,
foretell the sun,
predicting
bright days to come.

Comment: Another ‘very raw’ poem, just less than a day old. We bought two bunches of daffodils in the supermarket yesterday. There were none about on Dewi Sant / St. David’s Day (March 1), so we made up for it yesterday by buying two bunches. They bring a brightness and a lightness to the house and ease the winter gray that besieges the mind when winter lingers and spring seems so far away. Here is a link to two more poems on Daffodils. There are some photos here, too. https://rogermoorepoet.com/2016/05/29/daffodils/