SMALL OBSERVANCES OF GRIEF
In the seasonal tasks,
conjured by preserving pan
blackberries are gathered
and marmalade is made:
each year more gently
evoked. He on a hockey pitch;
she - bluebell scented - stoops
in primrose ditch, the memories
gathered alongside kindling wood.
Published May 2003 - Fire
By Rilla Dudley
the still point
in a whirlpool sea,
the constant star
in a cloud swept sky,
the house which stands
in an eathquaked city,
the plant which survives
the forest fires.
You are the horizon,
forever visible, even
on an unmapped journey.
You are the sun
which filters through
the grey banked clouds.
You are the tree
which spreads its branches,
giving peace and sanctuary.
POPPIES IN NOVEMBER
A century ago wild poppies bled
in Flanders fields, close-crimped and crimson-frail -
they symbolised the flower of England - dead
amid the mud and blood of Passchendaele.
The icons of old wars, they drift and float
down from the rafters of the Albert Hall
or, tied in sheaves, with drum-beat and salute
are laid on granite war memorials.
Poppies can fall from grace and now their ilk
defile the Afgan hills, their grey leaves grow
in dusty fields, their pink and purple silk
is trashed and trampled where the soldiers go.
Thier petals fall and lives are blown away -
along the fields of battle life is cheap.
For those brought home on rainy, flag draped days
death is their opiate, their dreamless sleep.
PIERS OF THE REALM
Emblems of civic wealth, built for the masses
who looked for newer scenes and wider scope;
a recreation for the under-classes,
those who were poor in everything but hope.
A source of jokes - we love what we deride -
"Oh, go for a long walk on a short pier!";
embodiment of unthinking pride -
Britannia ruled the waves, our role was clear.
Walk down the pier, look back and scan the shore
receding like lost youth. X marks the spot,
an outgrown world of what the butler saw,
gilt carousels and pennies in the slot.
Our gaze still searches the extended seas,
light waves still slap, planks bounce, the bands still play;
brash seagulls swirl and scream, the salty breeze
'blows off the cobwebs', as we liked to say.
As darkness falls the wind-lashed piers still stand
poised on the shoreline in the fading light;
an outstretched arm flung from the sleeping land,
alone with sea and sky in the vast night.
'A Sense of Place' anthology, United Press, March 2010.