NOTES ON A WORK IN PROGRESS
This was written between the actual life and the memory of meanings.
I remember the back seat of cars and their numbr plates and how each car was more real at night, the voices of adults like rain.
Tell me where it all went, right or wrong, truths in the life of lies, the whispers and the bells and dogs running across fields of snow.
In Albania they still take you home, the host taking the visitor down tracks and roads between the rumours of bandits, between stories of ancestors and where the gold was hidden.
A retired vicar has been standing in the orchard waiting for his wife to return. He has been there for so long most of his dreams have fallen out. Either she has run off with a policeman or a teacher or the woman who used to clean the brasses.
This was written between one idea and another and the way the meanings made some sounds. It does not usually happen like this. There are then the letters we never answered and the letters we wanted to receive and things scattered at the edge of forgiveness as it rains voices, as the night gets into the back seat of cars, as the bells and dogs collide, as the host becomes a bandit, as the retired vicar begins another letter to God.
Final Note. The work in progress goes out for a walk. The idea sits at the table tapping its fingers. Some dialogue gets stuck behind the piano. The postman always keeps a few letters for himself. He considers appropriate replies but never quite gets around to it. Who put the Bible in the fridge and does it matter? Some people hold out and some people hold on, to poetry I mean. Where do you hide it for the moment you need it to mean? Tell me.
I REMEMBER NOT MEETING THIS MAN
I remember not meeting this man
who was to fold me in his lost language
before he died.
I remember this man who would tell me
bird feather sun
and about the certainties of death
I remember this man who would name the value
of his language, his valley, his gods
and we would drink something made of a mystery.
But this did not happen. He died before we met.
No stories of a dance. No holding hands.
No sitting on a branch inside his head.
His wife gave me his Memory Book. It was
wild with grass and stars and yet I could
from time to time decipher
bird feather sun.
That they meant to say, or even sing
An idea that makes us alert, to hear
The mind making an understanding
As clusters settle between the known
And the discovered and the suddenly
That we attempt this often, restless
To gather, as if a view were never
The same, or each page of each
Book may become another thing,
Sometime passing ourselves as
We use these words and wonder
At the word
That this is what we might become
Punctuating our lives with the probable, seeking
What we once heard in a playground or pew or bedroom;
The relentless reordering and displacements of love.
AND SLEW A LION IN A PIT ON A SUNNY DAY
In memory of JL Carr
What you mostly need is a day white as a swanÕs egg,
silver white, whisper white, white like a whistling woman;
the cold coming at you between the balls of your feet
between your legs and emptying your mouth;
the trees thrashed back as though man-made for a war
and the lion already aware of you, spying the surfaces.
You know how it will turn out. You know even now of
a lack of originality and what you will be doing for the next
half-hour is retracing the epic, the mystical, the
age blasted; yet it is, it is now; here you are,
here it begins to bite on your bones and a voice
in the distance about lunch and freezing is postponed.
Somewhere, out there, there is this dog in another world
and the Spanish maid beating at the frozen shirts on the washing
line that look like prisoners holding hands and the car in
the drive waits for its crash and the postwoman will be bitten
in the spring by the dog who will have to be put down
when we are not singing psalms and attempting top C.
What you mostly need is grandfatherÕs small New Testament
with the bullet hole in it and the lion who has never met
an angel and who speaks your language and the snow to keep
others away (Scott, Evans, Watkins, Vaughan-Williams)
and the pit to be large enough to let in the enormous light;
immense arches, blue hives, silent lost songs, dazzling.
And slew a lion in a pit on a snowy day, and heard
the radiance, and saw the blood, and heard voices from
the other side of knowledge and did not run and told
nobody and never wrote this down and put the small
New Testament back in the study drawer and heard
other voices beneath the hat-stand talking of my birth.
© David H.W. Grubb 2005