Dusk in Pytchley
The long shadows from the skeleton trees have faded now,
And the winter sky glows pink above the brow,
The Moon shines from blue dusk sky, and roosting birds
Enlivened anew by the returning Sun,
Flutter and squawk, reluctant to give up this first bright day.
We walk the sheepless fields of all day frost,
Cracking the ice on the pond of childhood lost,
And listen for the silence that should rise from misty fields,
Caught between this bright, chill day and the sanctuary of night.
Peace; between last flutter of day and the first clear hoot of dark.
Above, a glinting dart pulls lines across the sky;
Silently, but down below resounds the aircraft cry.
And from the East, the motor-way makes mellow harmony.
A scrap of conversation drifts from the stable yard.
A distant echo; a mistake, replaced, in haste, by a biker on the Broughton Road.
A bird scarer; pigeon waker explodes into the throng,
And all the way to Orlingbury it’s colleagues join the song,
Distant artillery as each reports the dying of the day.
And dogs are barking in Pytchley Hall and it seems to me
That the old scare-crow, who props his head with rubber gloved hands, is covering his ears.
16.2.2008 Diana Ashworth published in Countryside Tales, 2008
Wartime Wedding Diana Ashworth
Petal-pink she shines, lightly – Ladies-smock
in a mire of air-force blue and khaki.
Under the mimosa haze an errant lock
of thick black hair escapes formality.
This wedding of two so young is more
than hasty union between two families.
Desperate hope: last chance to throw the dice
in early summer 1944.
The old folk see beyond the niceties,
before D-day: the virgin sacrifice.
The groom’s grand-mother’s garden has dressed
for the occasion in lilac and may.
Roses stand in groups and watch the dowdy guests
sip pre-war champagne – not such a bad day.
When a sparrow-hawk streaks across the scene
to tumble a dove in feathered dog-fight,
boys mimic ack-ack; smoke drifts along the bay.
Someone shouts, ‘one of ours’ – too late, we’ve seen
what we will lie awake and think about tonight –
a blooded white flag raised by break of day.
Granny, always gracious, plays piano, but
notes leave the stave like flocks of angry birds
flapping at the paper panes, as if to cut
with scissor wings and swirl away the words,
through the conservatory without glass
to somewhere no-one will commend this bad
idea – to send away her little boy.
A million shards twinkle in the grass.
The yougsters revel and are frisky-mad
grabbing joy before they re-deploy.
His mother harbours honeymoon hopes
of conjuring a spare;
not her, who slips the battered Marie Stopes
into their bag and whispers ‘do take care’.
The Moon swells with fatal fecundity,
and the tide turns and the wind blows
from the South-West – dispersing the sea mist
in the channel – on-shore in Normandy.
Next day all leave cancelled – ‘til when? God Knows.
Those getting-to-know-you days are lost.
First Published in PenCambria,22 (Spring,2013)
Counterpoints –In response to poems by R.S.Thomas, Ed: Joy Neal ((Einion Books, 2015)
So many men in literature have sold their souls to The Devil. I like the notion of one who sold his soul to God.
R.S. Thomas observed his parishioners, in There, from his own context. Here, a parishioner looks back.
(please note: ‘gog’ is Welsh slang for someone from North Wales)
God bought the soul of a poet
To be our clergyman.
From the celestial catalogue—
Bardic priest required
What is a man’s
Price? For insight into Welshness,
Best left unsaid, and
Words that fly on the heedless wind, or
Dive into the bin. It is
A draughty living and a pile of logs.
It is distance – from the curt, offensive world
And time — to etch his mark
Upon the surface of the sea.
I have watched him
Head bent in sour reflection
Adding a concession – but
I cannot help but like him
For the dryness of his wit.
(An answer to The Island from H’m (1973) by R.S. Thomas)
And God said, ‘enough of this,
You have got it all wrong:
It is your own pain you see
Reflected in the eyes of
My people, that drip with the
Purulence of your gaze.
They live in my own land,
Hard work is their sacrament.
They see me every day in
My place, where the wind sings
Halleluiah and rude life erupts
From every verge, nest and belly.’
Said God, ‘and I know that I am
Worshipped in the warm embers,
Feather beds and in all the
Urgent imperatives of their lives.’