Flatford Swan

Calm swan of Flatford
Beneath my window,
Feathers stirred softly
In the upstream breeze,
With us who journey
On life’s white rapids,
Share your detachment,
Your serenity.

Flatford Mill, Suffolk
30 July 1989

Photographs at seventy

In an old Photograph
Looking out at me
From the stiff line of children
I see the boy I was.
He plays in the streets
Of my childhood
And sits at my desk
Swinging my boots
And carving my name,
With a precious penknife.

Down the years
He runs freely
In the alleys of my mind
As though he lived there.
If I bumped into him
In the corridor
Of some demolished house
Would he recognise me
And reach up to kiss me?

Somewhere in France

After the picnic
By a cherry tree,
We climbed to the top
Of a chalky hill
And over the brow
To cornfields beyond.
There, in sun and wind
We walked and unwound,
Rarest of moments
Completely alone,
Save for a skylark
Ascending above.
I longed to bed you
In ripening corn
But held back, restrained
By foolish taboos
And by our children
Waiting back there
Under the tree.
The thought of it
Fed my mind and body
For hours afterwards.

26 July 1986

My new sister

My sister’s name is Lucy
And she’s only four months old,
She coos and gurgles all day long
And is quite as good as gold.

Now I’m her grown up brother,
I’m nearly two you see,
In all our games, in all we do,
Lucy will follow me!

November 1971

A song to loving

Come, greet your day and sing with me
A song to loving, come what may!
Drink in the sunlight with the wine
And our tomorrows live today!


Quechua Christ

In the desert was I tempted.
Thirst besieged my throat
And sleep my eyes.
Stones were my only bread
And thorn bushes
My resting place.
My feet stumbled
On precipitous paths.
My mind wandered
With the wind
And sought refuge
In the moving sands.

But still I would not yield.

On the mountains was I tempted.
Finest vicuña
Clothed my limbs
And Inca gold
Crowned my brow.
On the upstream of Time,
I soared with condors
And saw, from the clouds,
The Lands of the Earth.

I alone possessed
The arts of the shamans
And, in my two hands
Held the thunderbolts of power.

But still I would not yield.

At the appropriate time,
I came down from the high plains
And, in the sacred valley,
Drank at the springs of Life.

AJS – On the Altiplano, Peru, April 1998

A glimpse of you

A glimpse of shoulder
Bare on the Pillow,
Set fancy moving
Beneath the covers.
You lay on your side
Facing the window,
The sheet betraying
with sweet complicity
The enticing line
of your sleeping form.