And as the pen at rest inside my head

awakes and aches to resume its place

at our favourite table or easy chair –

which of course we gladly share given

the time we spend together there;

so, to keep it sweet as best I can,

despite a delinquent grey June day,

I tell myself that my plan will be to follow,

closely, this unprepossessing thing in

plotting the route from the day’s beginning

to the point when, body and mind aligned,

we nod to the other to say okay, let’s go,

let’s start the morning shift on time.


But before proceeding with that plan and plot,

the word “shift” requires some navel-gazing:

first, I discard from possibility the sense of

significant movement; the morning’s going

nowhere soon; and, second, was it really right

to suggest that our creativity be timed by

reference to the chime of bells or (worse) some

honking hooter and thereby write, in overused verse,

dull words about factory floors and revolving doors.

But this illuminates the gaping irony that,

while free time, post-“work”, might seem to stretch away

and so gradually provide grandchildren, dogs and hens that lay,

the reality is that time is given me because I’m

older than I was and know my term is comfortingly finite.

So there’s work to be done and “shift” a good measure

(but hear me clearly now, I’ll not do nights!).


Back to the start: we’d left pen and me

gradually waking on a mid-summer morning

in a house in a town we’d found by chance

thirty years before. Peace resides and lies

across the length of my outstretched limbs,

then pulls a drawstring lightly round my neck

to keep my body’s peace as long as permitted

allowing it to slowly seep away and mix with

the early stirrings of the town’s inhalations,

its exhalations, the movements and emotions

of its denizens, the tokens of their estimations,

the meaning of their hesitations.


Soon enough, and sure enough, the day promised

starts to require attention and, tugging back the curtains,

I fix my eyes on the weathering of Chanctonbury’s downs

as the day expected confirms the means and aims of

all peregrinations abroad – a visual feast for my and

a million more eyes around the time when a moment may be

stopped in its tracks just to garner information from

the briefest observations. My pen agrees to hold fast,

to suspend operations, while I look closely at the ridge –after all, it can

learn as much as I, as I stand quietly contemplating

the dark black enigma of why, why, why is our natural world

so beautiful, so generous, so enchanting?


I have developed over time, then simplified my answer:

I wasted time in considerations of Science and in failing

to accept – nay, even to articulate publicly – that man is

not of this Earth nor of any god worth having. We, and all

our circumstances, are just tiny accidents bobbing about

in an inaccessible universe. We do not, we dare not,

contemplate beyond the start of the next deep freeze.

The thereafter will be what it will be; and goodbye

will be our most common, our most wilting, word.

Thus does Chanctonbury win hands down: it knows

we know that we are lost in every way; addicts to poignancy,

we drink it in and tremble with it. But so long as it

doles out the beauty, the generosity, the enchantment

we shall always forgive it.


Now and then I look at my pen and conjure up

fanciful images of alternative man; I smile at the thought

that both of us are reproduced, innumerable times:

same hair, same ten toes (same tippy-toes), same

patterns of moles, same indelible ink sinking into

the same whirling thumbprints. What else but to smile,

to brush up the crumbs and practise dropping them on

drying tongues that can no longer taste? Soon unnoticed waste,

let’s look for our pens and write down how we move from

today’s plenty of And As to our unstoppable fall to And Was.




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Peter Taylor

Mon 8th Jul 2019 23:21

Hi David,

I am more than happy to be in receipt of so much of your time and attention - thank you. And so glad that you are writing such powerful pieces which I enjoy greatly.


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