I celebrated my 55th birthday recently….there is a lot of horror and awfulness in the world. I don’t necessarily want to avoid contemplating it, but sometimes it is good – if you are fortunate enough to do so – to stand back and simply drink in the magic. That, for me, is life really – as the late, great Lou Reed would have it “Magic and Loss”.
I WATCHED IN WONDER, AS……
The clear blue sky was split by green leafed tree
I looked at the painting of the Cornish Belle that hangs in my office
We watched 2 crested grebe dipping, and a swan on the nest, from the sanctuary of our hotel balcony
We flew down into Treorchy, apparently arriving by runway, the car a magic carpet, splitting the mildly misted darkness of a November night
Eric Bibb, troubadour extraordinaire, cool hatted and sharply suited, took to the stage where his godfather once sang, for the delight of miners abounding
Lowri Evans and her band set down tunes in the Land of Song
And Leonard Cohen “danced Cardiff to the end of love” on and on
Prior to that, Bruce Springsteen rocked and swayed and sang, apparently never ending
I devoured my new Norman Rockwell birthday gift book and donned a brand new shirt, homage to the station wagon
The smoke rose frail and fronded above the Port Talbot factory smokestacks, curling upward, skylined cloud
Rainstorms sweetly savaged the still spring air
The dogs and I discovered a new path, abundant with bluebell and nettles, and a new bridge – uncrossable as yet, and “Fern Hill not accessible”, but the apology surely not necessary
The three of us were knocked out, side split by the Love Punch
And tonight it is the turn of Godzilla
I passed by London Bridge, Moorgate, Bank and Old Street, bento box lunch and a stroll in the sunshine
Not doing the Lambeth Walk, but been there now, Roots and Shoots and all
I watched Debbie Harry and Blondie – 40 years on
And saw the last ever episode of M.A.S.H. bleary eyed, watching Hawkeye
I went West once more
I drank coffee, black, sweet and strong – no palpitations
I made a bow to Sir John Betjeman’s statue
I took lunch in the Pleasure Garden, Bonnington Square,
Greece, Turkey, England, Wales – all duly represented there
We walked the woods, wreathed in wild garlic, lilac and columbine pinks
Saw a peacock – it’s tail fully fanned and luminescent – no cameras, but I am graced with a memory
I got a shy smile from a man begging
and earned a gap toothed grimace from a gypsy musician
I stayed at the new home of old friends and found fresh features in previously unexplored and ageing streets
Heard new music from Brazil and Canvey Island – smokey jazz and the dynamite explosion of rhythm and blues
The lime trees were resplendent and green gorged in the morning light
A smouldering sunset topped Dinas Head
My niece, still new and unexpected, gurgled and chimed over the Facetime pages and gave her newly homed father a smile, that unfolded in delighted stages
I began the journey through ‘Americanah’ already relishing these recommended pages
Derren Brown amazed, perplexed and transfixed us – maybe even sent us away mildly hypnotised
A new car growled and spat and bore us southwards
Sussex and Kent span by
I learned that maybe I liked Rudyard Kipling after all – Just So
A nuthatch joined our café table
Earlier a tortoise had blown in my ear and then raced off, as much as that is possible
Work went on and I was lucky to love it
I read the emerging story, the fourth instalment unfolding, the characters captivating, the humour intact
A first rate novelist burnishing her form, died in the wool talent, as a matter of fact
Today I watched my breath unfurl in the mid May morning air
Some time ago we were transfixed by the 2 horses in the field behind, wildly, joyfully galloping, ground breaking and tail streaming bannered
The cawl was good, the craick too
As 55 years gone by were remarked, cards, presents and abundant good wishes
A life graced by good fortune, great friendships, by hugs and by kisses
I have lived these last years, silver ringed and golden gated
Enriched and involved, connected , sated
I celebrated, oh, how I celebrated.
May Day Morning – for Carol Ann Duffy
May Day morning, and a new laureate springs into being.
I walk in the woods, with the dogs, wind tailed and mischievous.
The leaf moulded track is
giddy with wild garlic, fat with bluebells, littered by birdsong.
As I walk, I think of poets, old and new,
and, of course, of you.
The dogs are frantic now, madly squirrel chasing, hunting imagined foes.
My mind turns to May Day,
the pagan carousel,
whirling around the Maypole,dizzily celebrating spring.
So much, so many, danced before.
And my mantra, my spring song
shifts to a chant of honour
for those I have loved, who
gather the cherry blossom
eternally, and elsewhere.
For them, this, a May Day prayer.
Back to the bursting, bubbling stream, Welsh water leaping and twisting
over moss topped rock,
The dogs, boldly swimming.
A dipper bobs a greeting, a woodland, May Day meeting.
2 old cottages lichened and retreating.
Slate cutters, shepherds.
Who might have danced there,
Canopied in the cavelike greenwood?
I hope there were revels then,
As now, and hopefully will be, again.
The dogs, dragging now, homeward bound.
Not necessarily, their favourite command.
But I need to spring to you,
Leave behind the drifting bluebells,
the pink flushed forest carpet.
Home to you, intoxicated beyond all reason.
Home to you, my May Day Queen,
cherished, ever adored.
beyond, this fabled season.