Phlox

This morning I could suddenly smell
The phlox in my grandfather’s garden.
You were lying there beside me, still
Hardly awake and the whole room was
Filled with flowers from before you were born.
We ran down the garden path, looking
For windfalls, my sister and I, and
The pink and white phlox grew over us,
Swarming with brown bees dusty with pollen.
You said “what are you thinking about?”
As I stared at the ceiling. “I can
Smell the phlox in my grandfather’s garden.”
I was thinking of my own deep joy
And the depth of my sister’s sadness.

16 February 1969

Girton (response by Lucy Norman)

And Springs and Springs
Have come and from the aged wood
New leaf and gentle blossom
Quite constant to appointment.
But you, the author,
Where do you reside
If not the apple-bough?

Its years and years since
Your lifeless body
Was carried through the driving rain
Ahead of black umbrellas
That perched like crows
To mourn our pointless way.

And yet we seek you still,
Your dark-haired daughters,
To hold us high
Above the agony
Of life.

By Lucy Norman March 2015

Girton

So old and winter-worn
The apple trees of Girton,
Each ivied trunk inhabited
By female spirits, resting
After battles but not sleeping.
Soft dews of summer days,
Anoint their tired limbs,
Refresh and re-invest
Heroic minds.
The struggle is not won
And from the aged wood
New flowers must spring.

Cambridge
28 July 1989

Robin

A robin sat on the roof
And sang his heart out
As we loaded wet concrete
Into the barrow,
Shovel by painful shovel,
And pushed it away
To lay the wall’s foundations.
With two tons shifted
Since the lorry unloaded
And two still to go,
We were in no mood to sing,
But robin sang on
Into the grey afternoon.
Our hearts were lighter
Even if our loads were not.

23 December 1971

February walk

The shrill two note song
Of the skylark insisted
Spring had come early,
But I knew that the
Blue of the sea and the sky
were today’s only.

9 February 1968

Titicaca, between Peru and Bolivia

In the lake of floating islands,
Beyond the haze of disbelief,
Lie the Island of the Sun
And the Island of the Moon.

The Sun God rocked our reed boat
On the breast of the sacred lake.
In the great stillness,
Between sky and water,
We closed our eyes and journey inwards.
Here, truly, was Arcadia

1999

A Bucolic Invitation

I’ll build a bower for my love
And in its shade with her shall live.
A mystic apple tree in bloom
Will thatch our secret lovers’ room,
And climbing roses weave the walls
To scent the air when evening falls.
Here loving spirits will abide
And friendly deities preside.
King Time shall wield no sway nor might
In this our arbour of delight.
Like honeysuckle we’ll entwine
And in pale cups of columbine
Life’s nectar drink and pleasures take
And all our worldly cares forsake.
Our green oasis will conceal
The sweet emotions lovers feel
And be a school for all those arts
That lovers share with kindred hearts.
So come, my Love, and stay with me
Within the bower I build for thee,
And, in this blessed month of May,
All Life’s tomorrows live today.