RETROSPECTIVE

i

Innocent

     he met a force

Untried

            it held him

 

 

... and wonder drained the world of substance

            re-arranged the pages of his book to give more radiant a reading.

                                                           

The light of new possibilities

pressed down on time.

The girl sang to him "You can hear the boats go by". He

learned her mystery

     and destiny understood his loss.

She read "Man is condemned to be free". And he

knew his responsibilities

     but flew with her wings

 

 

Newborn

... he spoke of peace and joy; saw the wonder

            of his destiny

            and dreamed.

The Daemons frowned on them

and, remembering meaning,

sought to divide

... wiser, she saw another future; tasted their bitter gall

            but soared

            and vanquished all.

 

 

Time...

Peace came with distance. Fal smiled on them.

A lull

     when senses knew only a single silent bell

     He remembered

     "Worship is transcendent wonder"

and as they rose above the surf

     the gulls, and time itself, stilled: mute and 'mazed at

            the clear karma of their love.

He devoured her mind; she drank his soul.

     The river becomes the sea

            the tide welcomes its waters,

            and it is content.

 

She drank at his well; was intoxicated by his spirit

     her gaze danced to his will

     his future was written in her eyes.

Later, the dark sands kept their secret:

     she wrote her love on his soul

            he read her script and was lost

The night sea whispered

 

When you see such passion in her eyes

it's time to leave port

      the old sailor said

 

 

ii

Then

he became the high candle around which she flew

the tabernacle in which she dwelt:

     she was the centre of his being

     and all that he knew. The cedars whispered,

     the unicorns knelt and bowed their heads

     and Albina - she of the dawn, protector of ill-fated lovers -

     watched over them.

"Your body travels with me; your blood flows in my veins"

For the sway of his calling held him

     and on many days small partings disturbed them;

     briefly.

He did not leave her: only his body was absent awhile.

     She held his mind in thrall to her love

 

Life spun:

to the west the profane skills of the sea held him;

at each easting his very being was uplifted by her:

     she was his guru

     his sun.

 

It was as if eternity was theirs among the southern cedars

 

But even heaven knows a world beyond.

He knew.

He could only guess

     at her strength.

For Llŷr called from the West, Eingana beckoned

       He was a thing of the sea and parting was ordained:

                   he must forever navigate old horizons

She - for all her vision - could not see beyond the shore

He knows

the possibility of an orbit

     where umbral time is released by light

     long days on that higher plane eclipse longer darker time

     in earthly solitude

her body calls out for understanding

     and cries out...

 

He is torn

     but his odyssey is decreed:

     His ship awaits - the very seas wait to welcome him back.

     His earthly gods demand their due.

 

The ghost of blind Teiresias prophesied, "... you ask about your sweet homecoming, but the god will make it a bitter journey. I think you will not escape Poseidon, the Earth Shaker, who is angered at heart against you... Even so, though you shall suffer you and your friends may yet reach home... when you have escaped the dark blue sea...think only of your homeward course"

 

     But Teiresias - for all his vision - could not see beyond the shore

     or divine the suffering visited on this mortal man's Penelope.

    

 

 

 

iii

The night that has passed can never return:

     the sea quenches all.

Cruel parting after such passion

O woman left behind!

 

O ship

     Of steel, rivets: deck, bridge, hull and keel:

     Fore and aft, moored tight to her

     Cargo holds: soon filled

     Cabins! One cabin she knows so well!

Bearing him away

 

O man

     Of charts and night watches

     Scanning horizons: navigating so many seas

     Do you dream of her? Pine?

            Touch her in your dreams?

 

O woman left behind

     You can only pray...

     and wait:

            It is easier to sail away than be left at home!

 

She could not hear his voice

Time stands still while his letters speak only from the past:

     write to the future and read of the past

     how do you talk when every penned sentence and its answer

     must crawl so far?

                                                you in me in you

Memories!

Time is dammed in its hourglass: the stubborn sand

will not fall

she sees him drifting never nearer: a world away

     but she sees nothing!

 

she cannot touch his body

she cannot feel his soul

she cannot sense his mind

 

On long southern seas beside the slow gliding albatross,

     it seems he too is burdened to drift these cold waters eternally;

time passes, but in passing still leaves its stubborn sands behind.

     Home has never seemed so far.

Without

     he sees her face in everything, at every turn

     her voice whispers

Calls.

 

Time passes.

And - because it is so ordained - once again

the great ship slides gently up her river

     the lovers are joined and... again... the cedars bow over them.

 

But then, but then

Must he, a sea-bound Sisyphus for ever reach with her the height

- so brief a crest - again to drift down in the spume

     to sea to crest sea's surge again, again; nor

     back to the pebbled shore

     beneath the pier?

 

Can either he or she withstand the tide's eternal wash?

 

 

iv

As to the watch a distant mast glim in the empty sea

As on the empty horizon an island speck appears

As in the night a breath touches his skin

So he became aware.

     the waves stretched out towards her and cirrus painted the way

     in his mind he held her

            her arms enfolded his being, her body welcomed and

            his late compass calmed their seas:

Their union had always been inevitable

 

And as again the land held him, she shared his joy...

the very land - each simplest sight: meadow, grove and stream

seemed dressed in brighter light

the flinty shore, the chalky downs sang with them

Old Ælle rejoiced

Time and the world was theirs alone.

                                                The Daemons still frowned:

                                                sensing a different division,

                                                their power diminishing

 

Lace dressed she came to him

The waxy blooms she held seemed eternal

Her body is the ocean and every wave returns

     an echo of the vow. The churchyard trees hold the sound

     and the wind carries it forever:

     on its breath their love will always sing

 

They are alone!

     So short a time is left,

     her arms held him her body rejoiced she blessed his body

     his arms warmed her his eyes wept for her love

     he held her like a raft she held them afloat

 

So few days joined and they - who might then have then been rent

apart - saw a further heaven ope:

his lonely watch, her desolate vigil conjoined

to cross the seas companioned

     his lonely cabin cell now lighted, soul lifted

     his time now speeds - the sands not held

 

Above day's depthless deep  unbounded sea

     and under many a star at night

she sees the distant blue the faint horizon round

the dolphin cleft wave at the bow the still albatross on station

sea-changing fog and mighty storms, Eingana's distant shores

     and understands their siren call

 

Tasting the sea brine, hearing the ship's noise

Swept by passing airs, dampened by blind fog

she travels

Stranger to the southern stars, guest of warmer seas

Lost to all she has known, hull cloistered

she travels

     By day, by night he keeps his watch

     and marks their time

     else, he wonders at their bounty, revels in their bliss

     embraces their time

But now his ship has voyaged too soon (would he had restrained its

course): one long year is ended  

three departures and three homecomings mark the time

all things pass, her seat of learning calls

He cannot bear to leave

 

He knows she will struggle to write. Alone, he sees her weep

she yearns for his arms; her books no longer talk to her -

he is her text she reads his body repeatedly but

finds no sense. Alone, bereft,

she knows no shore

 

Where both had sailed, he sails alone. Adrift, his mind can only see

the currents of her sea: her body is his ocean

her mind his distant shore. He plots his course on her flesh

navigates his watch on her skin. He

is lost

 

When will he - pilot of the seas; helmsman of his destiny - return

his heart to homely Hestia's domain?

     cross limen: see parlor, range and crib again?

     oceans crossed, is he securely docked within the cove, or

     can tide's ebb drag him hence?

 

 

Only the Moirai know.

 

 

 

v

He will remember his summer homecoming:

The joy, the uncharted waters of surprise

The warm sun on the door, the bees in the honeysuckle.

She held him close and at arm's length, examined his smile

Understood his passion:

     he would never leave; the sea had let him go.

 

And now their life was compassed by a closer horizon

Hid from the old world, the larch watched over them.

Behind cattle sheds lost to sight

Walled with borrowed summer stone

     bounded by alder, beech and thorn

Their new haven held their hearts

     at ease:

no pilot would ease a seaward passage from his land

     this Elysian field where life is good to man

 

Ceredig's land became their home... 

Arianrhod seemed to smile on them:

     And the home became fruitful

     Their time was blessed

 

Their home, the cottage, the old farm

surrounded them

     by day its land fed them

     at night its old roof creaked and rustled

            as if the mice were busy too

 

 

 

vi

Through tens of years their roots sank deep

Seasons passed...

 

Winter's bitter winds and Summer's softer edge

Strengthened their kinship with the land

The peace of its earth and space held them

its embrace enclosed them

     the only place they wished to know

 

But in that Spring

some tree, a field seemed somehow less

the hint of something passing

She read "It is not now as it hath been of yore"

and he learned a new mystery

     and the Moirai understood his loss.

 

From that first love, that light which overcame the shades

     is left the warmth of memory

     These lines are legacy of

that heat which seared his mind and etched his soul

that love's dominion which held him

     worshiping

 

In the ashes of the fire there is a memory of the flame.

AutobiographyCeredigioncommitmentfamilyfarmjoylifelong poemslovemarriagememoriesmythologynavigationoceansseatravelWales

◄ Cottage Garden

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