Back on the road (bike) II

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Always the way:
First fine day
And old allegiance
Starts to stir.

Like hedgerow flowers
My dormant dreams
Awaken, bright, alluring,
And draw me in.

Shrug off ten years
With my winter clothes
And chase a younger self
In my racing shadow;

Wish for no world beyond
The heat mirage ahead;
All thought drowned
In the sound of the wind
And my own breathing.

Nail a For Sale sign
On my long-mortgaged soul;
The asking price:
One more summer on the road.

Sonnet Cycle: The Field – Part 3

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SUMMER

No rest in these full, fiery days: the trust
Placed in me months long gone must be repaid
In fat, gold grain. The combine’s twelve-foot blade
Leaves me stark, convict-cropped. They raise my dust
With ten-tonne trailers, roll my ribs of straw
For steer and stable; when the men depart
The patient crows come gleaning – every part
Of all I’ve made picked up and set in store.
And in a monstrous sky my exhaled heat
Is gathered too. From thunderheads I’ve stacked
Ten miles high, blessed rain renews my cracked
And gasping soil. The circle is complete.
Once more I keep my promise made to Man;
Just as I have each year since time began.

The dark side


 

The sun’s long gone; the summer evening makes
The first down-payment on the winter night
To come. Long shadows creep out from the woods
And over hilltops, driving colours deep
Into the still-warm soil to sleep till dawn.
But in the mothy dark, new sets of eyes
Are opening; the bright, all-seeing stare
Of sleepless beasts whose labours will not cease
Until cold dews come down upon the crops,
Or diesel tanks are hollow, drained to fumes.
They sweep the stubbles, flood the fields and gaze
With halogen intensity on plough,
Ring-roll and tillage-train; while in the lanes
Red pairs blink bright on bends, then settle to
A ruby glow that dwindles on the straight
Run in to barn or silo. They will haunt
The land a little longer, then be gone
Like swallows. All their mighty works complete,
They’ll drowse the dreary winter months away
Snug in their sheds, while night is handed back
To fox and owl and badger, who will reap
Their harvest from our acres as we sleep.

 

Photo credit: CLAAS GmbH & Co KGaA
http://www.claas.com

End of season

All that remains

The campsite is empty now:
The caravans and motorhomes are gone,
The tents and awnings are packed away.
All that remains is the sea.

The caravans and motorhomes are gone,
Across the Breton border, the Channel and the Rhine
Full of sand, baguette crumbs, and memories.

The tents and awnings are packed away,
Those magic spaces, homes that vanish so completely
We wonder they were ever there.

All that remains is the sea.
Indifferent to our human tide that flows in May
And, with October and summer’s end, quietly ebbs away.

 

My first attempt at a trimeric: thank you to Ina for inspiring me.

Daylight robbery

Blackberry picking
(with apologies to Seamus Heaney)

Summer sits
In fat, black clots,
Sun-warm in tubs
That once held ice-cream.

Thorns tear at hands, clothes,
Punishing our thievery,
Staining light fingers
Dark with juice.

And, neatly packed in glossy flesh,
The sun comes home with us
To rise again in steam and sweetness
When the cold days fall.

A bientôt, mes amis

En vacances

There is a beach –
Long, quiet, silver in the sun –
Where, for a while,
I can be
Complete.
Until
At summer’s end
I leave
To spend three seasons
Living here
Half-heartedly;
Knowing exactly
Where I left
The rest.

 

Holidays are upon us, so gonecycling will be  – well, gone cycling – very shortly. Thank you all so much for your comments, support and encouragement. Looking forward to catching up with you soon.

Summery sonnet

The weary gardener sets aside the spade
Now heavy as the August day is long
And seeks a quiet corner in the shade
To breathe the flowers’ fragrance, hear the song
Of busy birds among the shrubs and trees.
The wren trills in the hedge; the thrush replies
With liquid notes, and carried on the breeze
The shriek of black swifts harvesting the skies.
Then all at once a midnight silence falls
Upon the garden. Nature holds its breath.
No pigeon pipes, no finch or blackbird calls,
And summer shivers at the chill of death
As in the whispering ash beyond the gate
The sparrowhawk alights to watch and wait.

The longest day

The longest day

I need not wait
Until the earth
Tilts my hemisphere toward the sun
At twenty-three degrees:
For me
The longest day
Can come on any given date:
Each time I find myself
Confined indoors by work or weather;
When the phone is ringing
Constantly, each call adding another hair
To this shirt of mine;
When the bike betrays
A secret creak or nervous tick;
The hunting-dog goes lame or off his food;
The numbers topple
No matter how I stack them;
The lame knee does protest too much;
Or one of my beloved girls
Is gone.
Days stretched and overstuffed with hours,
That end in nights
With far too few.

Summer solstice

Sol sistere

So. The sun stands still.

And for half a heartbeat
The year is balanced
Like a coin on its edge.

On the sarsen-studded hill
They watch the light
Flare round the hele stone
As white-robed priests
Chant Alban Hefin incantations
In a strange, forgotten tongue.

Then the clock ticks
And tips us over
To start the long slow roll
Down into darkness
Where Alban Arthan waits
Crowned with holly, bound in iron.

The drought breaks

Summer Dies

This morning brings
A triple killing:

The Sun
Smothered with a grey cloud blanket;

The cracked ground
Drowned and beaten to a pulp

And my long run of hot, dry roads
Murdered in cold rain.

A summer born and dead too soon.
And the garden sends flowers.