Double vision

Enjoying the summer weather 
Let's all come together

We'll marvel at seed germination
With grit and determination.

Refilling the dry birdbath
We're walking a critical path

We'll get a bumper crop
As we've pulled out all the stops.

Having picked out the weak
 We are now past the peak 



She waits, alert and patient,
Waiting for she knows not what.
But when it comes, she's up...
Eager for food, a walk, recognition.
Her head low, her body long,
She rests and waits until...
Ears twitch, head lifts and 
She peers under long eyebrows.
She waits.
Does she ruminate on yesterday?
Is she considering tomorrow?
She is waiting; waiting for the day.
I reach across and stroke her silky fur.
I nuzzle her neck and caress her ears.
She pleads me with her eyes,
Then lowers her head and waits.

Psalm 121 – a reflection

Another day and my eyes are drawn to the mountains, rugged, Alpine peaks, rock exposed and permanent. I search among the forest of evergreens and then to the mountain again where the path disappears into mist.

I lay still, shallow breaths and stare at the painting hung on the wall…a window on another place and probably another time when everything was perfect and I was managing.

Why are my eyes drawn to the mountains? Is my help found there? If I search among the rocks and crevices will I get the answer to the puzzle that has become my life? When my eyes follow the pathway that disappears into the trees, will I get back to how I was?

No! Laying inert and searching among the hills will not help. My help comes from getting up and putting back the curtain to reveal a beautiful, if somewhat unruly garden where I feel, inhale and see again the divine, the explainable wonder of creation, growth and abundance. It is where I look forward to the changing seasons, the die-back and decay of leaves and my favourite, the perennials, that appear each year, fresh and hopeful.

So when I sit at my desk and find my eyes drawn to the view outside the window and sit with pen poised and ready, my thoughts invariably turn to God who has been my rock, my permanence, my sure foundation.

Why look to the hills when he is with me all the time? He listens and when he speaks it is always what I need to hear, whether it be words of comfort or reproach. When did I stop looking to him and stare into the hills instead?

My resilience comes from the Lord
Who made heaven and earth. 
He will not make me stumble or fall
Instead he will lift me and carry me
Through the valleys and climb with me
To the mountain top.
I can live freely with Him who lays no burden 
That is too heavy to carry.

For His grace is unforced; given not earned.
He calls, we respond, 
And when the load is too much,
He whispers, "Come to me."

The Longest Day

Early on the longest day, we run past
Waist high green wheat and yellow barley,
While lambs to slaughter, gone, and 
Wild grasses, mowed and baled.
A skylark's song and sparrowhawk's cry
The only sounds in the early morning heat.
Peacock, Red Admiral and Gate-keeper,
Iridescent mayfly and black winged dragonfly
Arise and dance ahead of us,
And all the while the river
Meanders on.

It's seen it all;
Farms, meadows, mill races and lakes,
Solar panels flashing in the sunlight,
An abandoned prison with razor wire fence
And over it all, the immense blue sky
And around it all, the seasons change.

Spring in the valley

Creation called me to worship
this fine April morning with the clouds scudding
And the sky patched and sun-spotted.
This valley still surprises me and lifts my soul;
For the blackthorn is white with fine blossom
And the black-legged, black-eared ewes,
long suffering and nervous,
As my two mutts mooch then tug on their leads.
Nettles and hogweed, dock leaves and fireweed
Prepare to impede the path.
This valley, with its river and mill rushes,
Man-made lakes and commuter highway,
Is bursting with life.

(April run, Wellingborough to Earls Barton, along the Nene Way. 2015)

I Spy…

an alphabet in the Nene Valley

Buzzards soar, cuckoos call
Egret, geese and goslings.
Herons stand, kites search
Swifts, swans and signets
While over all the skylarks sing.
Bridges span, canoes drift,
Cycles, ramblers and dogs.
Gravel taken, lakes filled
Locks, mill race and weirs
While through it all the river meanders.
Badby rises, Barnwell mill
Cogenhoe, Everdon and Flore.
Islip's spire, Oundle's school
Woodford, Weedon and Yarwell
While in each place, a church proclaims.

Scratching the Surface

Beneath the soles of trainers and boots,
Under the rubber tyres and padded paws,
The sand and gravel, stone and dust
Is pressed and beaten, levelled flat.
A walker's highway, a circuit for runners
Where the beeps of fitbits join the mix
Of blue tits and warblers and LBJs,
And a returning cuckoo announces Spring.
Beneath the path, lie coal dust and cinder,
Long rusted nails and chunks of wood,
Where the iron rails lay and engines steamed
East to West on the valley floor. 
The rhythm of the wheels over the track
Approaching, deafening then receding from sight
Combine with skylarks, thrushes and rooks,
And a cuckoo returns to announce Spring.
Beneath the tracks, lie lost and forgotten,
Signs of invaders become home makers,
The Normans, Danes, Romans and Brits.
Broken pots, coins and fragments of bone
Litter the valley with its gentle slopes
While standing tall as sentinels on watch
Ancient monuments to the eternal Divine,
And in the heavens a skylark sings
Under the pots and fragments of bone
Lie the valley's wealth, its rich bedrock
of sand, gravel, ironstone and lime
Jurassic in time, sedimentary in nature,
Layer upon layer
Bivalves and tusks,  
Ditritus and "toe nails"
Sank and 
Under the melt water
Before the first Spring.

A Garden of Memories

I remember, I remember
The garden at my grandma's house,
Where honesty and nettles grew
With ferns, rhubarb and the odd mouse!
I remember, I remember
Goldenrod and Solomon seal;
The nettles where my brother fell
Then smeared with calamine, to heal.
My mum remembers the garden
As a pleasant place to play
Fish, newts and frogs swam in the pond,
Her dad's shed as a hideaway.
She remembers, she remembers
Rabbits and chickens roaming free,
'Til the potatoes were lifted
Then skinned and eaten for tea!
She remembers, I remember
London Pride, and a rambling rose;
Marguerites with large white petals
But no place set aside to doze.
I remember, I remember
Kinloch's bakery was next door.
The tall trees and meadow remain,
But the shop and house are no more. 
I took some plants, dug up some fern
When the house granddad built was sold.
They took root and each Spring emerge
With treasured memories, like gold.

Locked in/Set free

A Pantoun is a type of poem where the 2nd and 4th lines are echoed in the 1st and 3rd lines of the following stanza.

Hopes were dashed when He died,
Betrayed mocked and crucified.
Together, they stayed locked in
Grieving, with nerves wearing thin.
Crucified, betrayed and mocked
They waited for the soldier's knock.
In lock down, the future dim,
The way uncertain, without Him.
The soldier's knock never came.
He arose, peace to proclaim
And with Him the way was sure.
God with us for evermore.
Proclaiming peace, allaying fear
Is the message for all to hear.
God is with us, see the sign
Where selfless care and love combine.
Hopes were dashed when He died
They stayed locked in, petrified; 
Til opening their minds, they let Him in
So joy, peace and new life could begin.

Sonnet for Georgia

Welcome, my darling Georgia Mae McCabe
To a world in lock down and national crisis.
You are precious and loved. Don’t be afraid.
You have Isla, as a best friend and big Sis.
Your lovely little face with peach soft skin,
Button round nose and eyes dark blue;
I wonder if you’ll have the Hacksley chin
And your hair be auburn, as mine was, too.
While grief and doubt and fear were felt
Your Mummy protected you in her womb.
You were born, kicking, and made our hearts melt
Dispelling this world’s perpetual gloom.
See, Springtime flowers in the March sunshine,
And new life brings hope and all will be fine.
VA 26/3/20