Pilgrimage

That was strange,
that walk to the tower,
almost like a pilgrimage
to some holy shrine,
or hermitage on a rock,
that slow process up the cliffside.

You’d scratched our new car
on the journey to the coast
and I could think of little else
but the insurance claim,
the expense,
the sheer bloody
aggravation of it all,
while your calmness left me
tossing in a fever;
sea fever.

And then we chanced upon the tower,
began the trek to a place
we could not enter,
yet somehow did.

I traced my hand
along the wind-smoothed stone,
blasted orange in the waning sun,
peered through the rusty grill
to a sign that said: Danger – Keep Out,
felt myself buffeted
and for an instant, lifted.

When we returned
the scratch was still there
as deep as ever,
perhaps deeper,
but something else had changed,
though I can’t say what.

Only the silence on the journey home
was different.

[originally posted 10 June 2013]

Cage birds

I tried to explain and tried to explain
but ever the same words came:

Like a white bird ascending from the fire,
so love moves beyond desire.

But she laughed at me time and again,
and so I tried a new refrain:

Like a white bird flying in flames,
so desire returns again.

A scornful look, an icy stare, no laughter,
an empty chair.

Two cage birds on a table.

bark

i.

trees have bones just like us
only made of different stuff

that’s stupid – you said
it’s just wood

I ignored the jibe and carried on
it was after the storm
we were walking in the forest
inspecting the damage

branches lay like spillikins
strewn all over the place
or poised perilously
like in a giant game of jenga
a huge conifer had toppled over
and someone had worked hard
to make a dwelling
like a ruined chapel in its loins

it’s nothing like a chapel – you said
– and anyway trees don’t have loins

I know – I said
but if they did they would be deep down
where giant roots draw up sustenance
from the sleeping earth
there you find the best soil –
I was guessing but it sounded right

oh – you said – I knew that

yeah right – I said

what do you think caused this huge
dip in the ground – you asked

meteorite – I said

you laughed – that’s the stupidest thing
you’ve said all day but at least you
didn’t say crashed ufo

it could have been a crashed ufo – I said

let’s go home now – you said
– you’re right though – as we passed
a pile of branches looking like a
giant rib-cage – trees do have bones
but I’m still going to call it wood

they have skin too – I said

yeah – thick skin – it’s called bark

no – I said – that’s something dogs do
– this is what I mean

ii.

see you later – you said

I believed you and hung around for hours
it was the first time you’d called me an idiot
and I was touched
such frankness could only strengthen our relationship
I thought

how wrong could I be

but I finally worked it out today
when you say – see you later
you mean – see you sometime
maybe never

I’m sending you a photo of what I saw
while I was waiting

life is like bark

you work it out

see you later

iii.

I went out to the woods again

this time on my own
where once we walked in step of sorts
now I walk alone
I brought a piece of bark back home
to hang upon the wall
of all the lessons life has taught
the harshest one of all
is now before me

bark shall remind me

each day remind me

bark

Bark

c. Ichtor | Dreamstime.com

[posted 20 Nov. 2014]

Dark Passage

Dark passage, dark tide,
down corridors he slides
to sit by her side
for one moment.

The door swings wide,
through glass the moon shines,
he leaves her cabin
in torment.

The door swung wide,
the truth lay inside,
the loneliest walk
is to the side.

Down corridors he slides
to meet the dark tide,
the loneliest walk
is to the side.

A dark passage he took
to the side.

images-41.jpg

[first posted 8 December 2014}