Today

A wonderful walk on Wolstonbury Hill, near Clayton in West Sussex, and a prompt from Creative Writing Ink, led to this:

Today.

I come up here to think.

The burn on my legs,

As my muscles heave me up the steep slope,

Keeps me earthed, focussed.

It reminds me that whatever else

I am alive, tellurian.

I bring my snags and doubts.

Sometimes they are heavy –

They wring the blood from my fingers

And turn them white.

But not today.

Today, I barely feel their weight.

Today my chest feels light and

The blue sky tells me to breathe.

The ancient mounds of grassland

With purple thistle and yellow vetch

Hold  me firm and safe.

It is time, they say.

I  shake the battered holder of my past,

The handle flaked and worn against my hand,

And hear the roll and rattle

Of my last few fears.

Eyes closed I launch it all into the air,

Flinging it as hard and high as strength allows.

All is still,

I hear no bump, no roll,

Just a gentle song of wind against my ears.

When I look

I see the distant clump of beeches

Winking in the sun,

Bright white curves of chalky paths,

The panorama of the weald,

And know that I am free.

Life on Mars?

Bacteria found in lake frozen over for 3,000 years could give clue about  life on other planets | Daily Mail Online

The news this week is that some scientists believe there may be signs of life on Venus.  Is it possible on such a seemingly hostile environment? The signs on Mars seem more promising and soon we will know more from Perseverance, NASA’s rover, once it lands next year. But for now, we can allow ourselves to wonder …

I dream of Mars.

.

I dream of floating in your languid waters

When Fear and Dread were barely formed above.

When lakes of liquid filled the empty craters

And life on Mars was beautiful with love.

Solar winds would tease the cobalt ripples,

Martian streams replenish ancient pools,

Silver fish splash, plentiful and playful,

Magenta seas midsummer warm-imbued.

Red lagoons teem on the Altiplano,

Stick legged birds assemble on their shores.

Distantly Laguna Colorado

Mimics what is gone, what is no more.

Hexagons of Salar’s salty playa,

Did sparkling jewels like these adorn your skin?

Do your  reddened, dessicated layers

Hide ancient tales worth of our wondering?

Socket landscapes blink with probes and flicker,

Searching freezing deserts, ancient waves.

Will you whisper secrets to the seeker

Or silent keep, unknowable and brave?

Time and Cataracts

A visit to the opticians today revealed the news that I have early signs of cataracts. Whilst I found this a little disturbing, it was not distressing given the assurance by the optometrist that it was nothing to worry about, and was not ‘uncommon in someone of your age’. It did however lead me to sombre thoughts about ageing:

TIME.

Time – it pushes my foot

Harder now. 

The pedal pressed against the oily,

Well-worn floor.

Windows smutted with my life,

Fogged with once-remembered years

Confuse the view.

But if I switch the rubber blades

To wipe the tempered glass,

What will I see?

I go faster yet.

As morning dawns so yesterday

Becomes last week,

Last month, last year.

Seasons merge.

My hands grow weaker

On the wheel.

Their bony grip so tenuous.

They’re barely steering

Through the sinking light.

I see ahead a sign.

A route that calls my name

And with the greatest force that I can find

I turn the wheel –

Its cracking leather flaking

Like my ageing skin.

The tyres churn clouds of  chalky dust

And as they settle they reveal

Such vivid scenes –

Like cataracts removed from clouded eyes.

There’s clarity, or so it seems.

I hear the panting warmth of grandpa’s dog,

I see a rabbit skinned

And smell the oaty pellets in the barn.

Images have slowed and pause.

My foot releases,

Speed declines,

As long-gone faces

Crowd around and beckon me

To step out of the car.

Behind The Door.

(Writing Prompt Three).

You had hidden yourself well.

I had searched the land, the sea, the sky.

I had ever called your name.

I took my steps to where we first began.

From behind a battered door I caught an unknown smell.

I tugged upon the heavy door

Which caught upon the dusty bones

 Of broken dreams

And when I scraped it clear the

Stench of rotting promise

Filled the air.

I heaved your faded body from

The place of your despair.

I tied a scarf around my face

And swept the floor

And washed the filth until there was no sign

Of what had been

And shut the door and locked it tight

And threw away the key.

Shadow

I watched a robin this morning, hopping in an acer tree. I thought of how delicate they were compared to me. Then I thought of man’s impact on nature and the metaphor of the shadow developed as I began to write this poem:

Shadow.

The puff ball robin lightly jumps

from branch to branch.

Acer leaves scatter shadows across

His crimson chest

As tiny hands flutter fragile

Slivers of autumn.

I cast a shadow too –

A lumbering, heavy darkness.

Eating colour from his breast,

The tree, the shaggy grass.

Sluggish, graceless, spreading

With the pass of day.

At noon I used to crack the nut

And suck the fruit. My shadow short,

My touch benign.

But now at dusk it covers all

and falls so far –  it coats the seas,

And smothers life upon the land.