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
The struggle is not won
And from the aged wood
New flowers must spring.
The pavement is empty where once the men
Assembled after Mass to chew the cud
And roll a stringy cigarette or two,
Exchanging incense smoke for nicotine.
The women chatted homewards in the wake
Of hungry children, full of Sabbath grace,
With all the hours of Sunday yet to come,
Spread out before them like a wedding feast.
All that is gone. Where once the altar stood
And candles burned before the Lord of Hosts.
The magpies stalk and heavy builders’ trucks,
Removing rubble, send up clouds of dust.
The demolition of our parish church.
Poem finished 27.3.89
The girl who smells of roses plays her flute
Beside her window open on the night.
From shadows and disorder in her room,
The measured notes of Bach’s partitas flow
And fall about me in the dusk beneath.
From hidden branches in the copper-beech,
The day’s last blackbird sings in counterpoint.
How still the twilight when the blackbird calls!
How still the garden where her music falls!
Given to Lucy for her 18th birthday, 1 August 1989