Category Archives: Places

Patrishow

No hermit now at Patrishow
above the valley of the Grwyne Fawr.
The gifts left at the Holy Well
forlorn; the grey church silent.

Snail shells lie scattered on a stone.
The thrush who guards this place
has found a use for an old grave.
Our presence does not touch him.

He knows we are just passing.

 

 

h_Patrishow (37)

 


Sunday morning at the canal

Across the fields to Llangattock.
At the top of the hill
the latch clangs back on the metal gate.

The canal sleeps on.

Two boats, barely moving
on still brown water.
A hiker; exchange of a nod.

Perfect reflections of foliage.

Unseen flutter of wings;
the call of a wood pigeon.
Fat stone bridges.

The sound of my footsteps.


Monteraponi

Where will the tide of ancient oaks spend itself?
Swell upon swell it runs towards the horizon,
the rasp of a thousand cicadas a second tide
in the almost night air. Three stars are out.

In the middle distance, the lights of a village
hover between waking and sleep;
beyond, in that glow between earth and sky
faint inklings of Siena or Florence.


Chickentime

I sit quite still
on the weathered wooden bench

as the caramel coloured chicks
stalk closer.

The sharp tugging of beaks
at tender shoots of grass,

the homely hencoop smell –
and I’m adrift

in summer, giddy, cut loose
from my moorings,

lost but wrapped safe
in solicitous clucking –

The chicks nestle near
in the last rays of the low sun;

the hen, wary, patrols –
and I hold Grandpa’s hand

as we go and lift warm eggs
from beds of straw.


On Washington Crossing the Delaware

Not today, though,
in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
not today he isn’t.

The entrance to the room
is barricaded with plywood permitting
only a partial glimpse

of the General: upstanding, unfazed
by the turbulent ice floes,
unwavering gaze fixed on, well,

plywood. The impeccable turnout,
in democratically dun-coloured mantle
(lined with scarlet),

thrown in dramatic folds
over shoulders bearing the weight
of a nascent nation –

all for nothing today. He shall not
reach the far shore, shall not
trounce the Hessian mercenaries;

and this great nation shall never,
now, be birthed – and not
just this room, no, the entire museum,

Fifth Avenue, all of Manhattan
declared closed
for the duration; New York roped off,

the Empire State Building un-built,
stone by stone, steel girders
dismantled, the Brooklyn Bridge

melted down and Brooklyn cut loose
to drift out to sea.
By and by the prairie schooners

will return from the West (California
now only a word
whispered in feverish dreams

and no more), and from a non-place
not called Washington,
in a porticoed, pillared white house

that never was, a last tweet proclaims
the fading usurper’s futile fury –
then silence. Peace.

Washington Crossing the Delaware


Ellis Island

Sofia, age 23, from Siberia:
processed in Ellis Island, 1921;
destination Gackle, North Dakota.

You have to wonder.

Gackle, North Dakota:
founded in 1904;
located at 46°37′38″N, 99°8′36″W:

not even the middle of nowhere.

Population (1920): 424.
Population (1950): 606.
Population (2016): 291:

not exactly Boomtown ND.

Things to do in Gackle ND:
ˮGackle is home
to the Gackle Public Libraryˮ –

that is about the extent of it.

They must be doing
an awful lot of reading
up there in Gackle, ND.

And you have to wonder:

Did she find her home there?
Was it worth the loss of loved ones,
the heartbreak of exile, the long journey

all the way from Siberia – to Gackle, ND.


Walking on Thin Air

You will never be standing
on that impossibly thin line
four hundred metres
above the ground
between the two towers –

oh but you will:

all of us will, or were,
or are (even now),
only we did not realise then,
or have forgotten,
or choose to close our eyes

to the immensity of the drop.

 

(On 8/7/1974, Philippe Petit walked  the tightrope betweeen the twin towers of the World Trade Center.)