Where are you now, dear hearts, from what far bourne
Do you survey the lives of those who mourn?
Too soon, in quick succession through the night,
Your tired spirits took their final flight,
So stars in Autumn shoot across the sky
And in one moment fall to earth and die.
But on your journey, loving, brave, upright,
You shared with us the burning of your light.
For Granny and Bumpah
Two magpies stalk across the building site,
Ruffled by the cold wind through the thorn hedge.
I don’t really know what they hope to find
In this wasteland of concrete and gravel.
Perhaps next year when the grass is growing,
There’ll be crusts thrown from our kitchen window.
Are they looking for building materials
Among the curled shavings and the rubble?
They’re welcome to share ours around the plot,
Especially as there are two of them
which always augurs well for the future.
3rd April 1971
I made my way down
Through the long grass and hares’ tails
To the eroding dunes which
Hold back the water.
The children were lost
Waist high in the cow parsley,
And pale puffs of pollen and
Floated around them.
You were not with me
And the still, hot afternoon
was slow in passing.
5th July 1968, Jersey
We built a fort of seaweed
Against the rising tide,
We made it round and solid
And then all climbed inside.
The waves splashed up against it
Till we were wet with spray,
Our fort began to crumble
And seaweed float away.
“Quick, quick, the walls are giving!
Build up the broken gate!
Let’s reinforce the ramparts
Before it is too late!”
In spite of all our efforts
To stop the rushing tide,
Our castle sank beneath the waves
And water came inside.
“Abandon ship” my Daddy cried,
“Let’s leave it to the sea!”
We scrambled up the beach to Mum
And went back home for tea.
26 August 1979
Hare Summer leads a chase along the lanes
And scatters torn up sunlight under trees
And on the banks where wild garlic grows
Among the heavy headed grasses.
Your house lies in his path along the marsh
Near where the golden willows burst with leaf
And watch-spring bracken day by day unwinds
Among cow pats and clumps of almond gorse.
Inside the house the afternoon sleeps cool
Behind the dark blue blinds. Above the stove
The honey-coloured cat stirs in his sleep,
The tap drips in the sink and china laid for tea
Waits on the tray.
Beneath the hedge among the unpruned trees
We lie asleep or love-make in the sun.
Sweet paradise of childhood,
Oh, truly happy land,
Where friends in sea and sunshine
Across the golden sand
Of childhood’s endless summers
Go running hand in hand.
At the end of the path
Where the grass grows tall
And the bushes come down
Right over my head,
There’s a small summerhouse
Where often I crawl
To hide from the others
When it’s time for bed.