The Gathering – dedicated to Granville James

I have a friend and neighbour, John, who is a sheep farmer, with a flock on Carningli. His family have lived there for many years.

From time to time I adopt my temporary guise as #theoccasionalshepherd and help him with sheep related duties. For me, it is one of the greatest pleasures of living here in Newport, Pembrokeshire.

Two or three times a year a group of local people, often graced with the presence of Anwen and Chris, help John,and his sister, Aeres , to gather the sheep off the mountainside.  Until this spring we also always had Aeres’ husband, Granville, with his ever gracious smile, care and concern for all, and delight in the mountain and all it’s ways.

Sadly (an understatement if ever there was) Granville died in May this year. This poem is for him, for Aeres, Anwen, John and Chris,  and for all who help out this delightful family. It comes with love.

 

The Gathering

We are walking the old ways

Bracken snatching at our heels

Stone stumbling across the narrow tracks

The sun on our backs

Feet sinking occasionally in rushwards marsh

Sticks swishing bramble, as we make the pass

Larks rising abundant, trilling

A red kite patrolling the sun split skies

Crows flap, unwilling, it’s all a bore

Quite sure, they’ve seen this all before.

 

Is that a rock, recumbent?

Or a ewe, two lambed

Blue hooped, bread rolled, sometimes sooty from burnt gorse

Woolly marshamallowed, on matchstick legs

Stirring grumpily from a sleepy hollow

Answering the call

Her Master’s Voice

As John whistles, shouts, limbers, long shanked

Swiftly

Carningli’s highways and by ways

On the back of his hand

Whilst we follow, as best we can

Shepherding by osmosis

Sometimes instinctive

To the sheep, his tones, distinctive

The flock moving on demand

Alive to his ever familiar command

Labouring on

Sweating slightly with  the July heat

The Bay below,

Curtain called velvet blue,

The sky frames paper triangled sailing boats at play

Church and castle

At our feet

Maybe they hear us working?

In the graveyard, the tall trees bend to listen too.

 

Now we turn, the flock funneled towards homecoming fields,

Sweet grassed, comforted, steadfast and settled

They’re in!

A few rebels

Break for the mountain

But are black bag flapped through the 5 bar gates

Too late!

Baler twined and strung in

Scurrying, heel kicking, stream leaping

Left now

To dot the meadows

An Impressionist painting for the Pembrokeshire hillside

Above beach, and town

Seeping sandy time and tide.

 

We leave, turn away

Even though there’s more, much more to do

(Shearing, dipping, marking, treating)

But maybe not today

That’s all

For even farmers

Have to play

Leave the flock to graze

To raise the bleating clarion call

Dawn to dusk

By night, by day.

 

The wind, sweet heather breathed, new credential

Steeps and gusts above Stone and Castle Hill

Sighing gentle benediction

The Gathering complete

Under John’s direction

Yet we all missed one element, essential,

It leaves us, still,

Our friend, coralled, slumbering long, elsewhere

And now the feathering breeze

Whispers one name

Granville

Granville

 

 

 

 

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D-Day – a link to Helen Carey’s blog. Recommended reading!

via D-Day


“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry” Emily Dickinson


Rabbits – a May Day wish.

My grandmother ( the angel upon my shoulder) always used to tell me that the first word to say, on the first of each month, was Rabbits. I don’t know where this tradition/ superstition came from, nor why our lop eared friends were chosen but, whenever I am up early ( as I am this May Day, 2019) and listening to the silence outside, I think of our beloved Eleanor Alice, and, in good faith, I whisper the word…..

Would that my grandmother were alive today

As Pembrokeshire awakens to this year’s May Day

“Rabbits!”

That’s the very first word you must say.

And my spring time wish for you?

That;

Good health,

Good fortune,

And freedom of spirit

Accompany you all

Upon your way.


Notre Dame

Like so many people, across the world, I was shocked and saddened by the images of this famous and beautiful building being consumed by flames. Forest fires can cleanse and purge, regenerate. Maybe President Macron’s pledge to rebuild will materialise. I hope so. But the building is so much more than that. It is a collection of memories, stories, hopes and fears, intrigues, plots, births, marriages, deaths and funerals. For many, a house of God, for some, a box ticked in the tourism guide, and for all, a centre for humanity. So this, in memoriam….

The building falls

Enflamed at the last,

The spire, hunch backed, then broken.

The world exhales,

A collective gasp,

A sob, a tear,

The siren shriek.

A fiery breath roars skywards.

What’s gone from here?

An icon, yes.

A feature, a show,

Somewhere for hordes of tourist to go,

The chatter, clatter, camera whirl,

Babble, rabble, rainbow guided swirl,

Notre Dame, an oasis perhaps, in this,

Our restless, curious, irreverent world.

(Believers came here too. Who knew?)

More than this though,

Sparks stumbling the night sky,

And thus, atomised

Learning to fly :

Dreams

Schemes

Prayers

Hymns

Joys

Fears

The hatched

The matched

The despatched

The church embattled

Across the years.

As the structure breathes its last

The symbol sighs

The crowds groan, moan, mourn this troubling

Devastating

Demise.

Aloft, the smoke belching

Sated, abated,

Fire fuelled repast

The bell no longer tolls.

The silence is that of the bombed out building,

The ghetto razed,

History, erased.

Adieu sublime,

Au revoir, divine.

The cost?

Our mutual loss?

Farewell,

Forlorn,

Adrift,

Yearning, burning,

Ash stricken.

The whispering echoes of time.


Hummingbirds

The hummingbirds are back

And all is well

They flew across the Atlantic with us

Years ago

They’d sprung from besides the Grand Canyon

They saw us through Bryce, Zion, Salt Lake City

Snow

Sunshine

They didn’t know

They travelled in a suitcase

Benign.

Months later we flagged them up

And they’ve floated serene

Meantimes

Above the Bay, spinning soundlessly

Morfa, Dinas Headed,

That’s where they’ve been.

Lately

We’ve been all at sea

Whilst they, dust dogged and long winter bedraggled

Were caught up in decorators detritus

Rested

Neglected and unseen.

Yesterday

Refreshed, rejuvenated,

Indifferent to all the noise and chatter of this troubled globe

We reinstated our duly mobile birds

Fee flowing silhouette

Shaded

Then sun burst on

Our newly pristine wall

As the chaos continues

The world may yet fall

But the hummingbirds are back

And

Just now

Our slice of the picture sits well

And that’s all.


Happy Christmas

A Christmas message, from my ALLTIME favourite author!

helencareybooks

xmas bullfinchI would like to wish a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all my friends, readers and blog followers.

2018 has been a good year for me on the writing front, with lots of acclaim for my wartime LAVENDER ROAD novels, and several of them hitting the best seller charts. All six books are now out as paperbacks, eBooks and audio books worldwide.

For those of you who have read the Lavender Road books there is still the option to have a go at SLICK DEALS, the adventure thriller I wrote a while back to amuse my husband, which is set in Monaco, France, London and lovely Pembrokeshire where we live. For the more romantic of you there is also THE ART OF LOVING, a light romance set in Germany, which launched my writing career so many years ago by getting me short-listed for the RNA new writer award!

Many of…

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