This morning I heard the blackbird’s song,
a sound of hope, that is spring on its way.
Now I listen to the sounds of nature,
look for significant shapes in the sky,
rather than heed the rumour and ruse,
shenanigans of the twisted minds of men
The sparrows are gone and now the winter is lonely.
Their spaces are taken by the gravelled drives
and the paved gardens. There will be no reprieve
but as the little bird leaves, like the wise man
deserts a fool, know that everything has its time
and that ours, too, is almost run.
The horse chestnut’s elephantine trunk glows warm
in the low winter sun, its clawing bareness stretches
into a cleansing sky. A narrow shaft of yellow light
dispels the rime on the whitened sward,
and the hanging orange globes of the passion flower,
like tiny suns, remind us of long gone warmth,
a hint of the approach of solstice day.
The lone robin stands guard, like a redcoat
patrolling his shed roof, punching way above his weight
to see off the bigger birds, those who would dare
plunder his own private space. He has nothing
but disdain for the squabbling starlings
who strut around in their shiny suits
in vain shows of bluster and pretence.
Even the cowslips thought it was spring.
Over keen, they showed their yellow hats
when the weather was mild and now they’re
caught out in a sudden arctic blast.
So too, the evergreen rosemary, whose lilac flowers,
though welcome, reveal the underlying unease
at the heart of the garden.
So we grew to like mowing the lawn, put up
with cutting the hedge. We let the poppies grow wild
and the elderflower rampage. We even learned
to love nettles and the funny little weeds –
but the sparrow never came back. They say he lives
in tiny enclaves now, in the fringes with red squirrels,
quite unknown in these parts, where the blackbird
chinks a meagre winter song.
The morning is like copper,
a veiled threat in the sky.
We find ourselves among
patches of green poking through
a dusting of snow, scents of
woodsmoke hanging in the air.
I watch your smile break as
a blackbird alights on a bare branch,
a morsel of bread in his beak.
I shiver, adjust my coat
to find the ruff strangely
around my neck. You turn
round to see what troubles me,
your dark mantle twirling behind,
the lightness of your collar setting off
that burning gleam in your eyes,
windows on some other world.
We saunter through a sleeping garden,
hints of the dead season clinging
to brittle bushes like a bitter denial.
Standing in front of me, your soft
words are scarcely understood,
yet inwardly known. Your laugh
sends out clouds which resolve
to a gentle cough, gloved fingers
touching your chest. Without a word,
I usher you inside towards the fire
which greets us with soothing heat.
We shall warm our toes together
in its fading glow
there’s a strange quality to the light,
lurid colours of the sky creating
anthropomorphic shapes in clouds,
warnings weaved through vapour trails
like a painting by Roerich
I hear the blackbird
he’s singing a new song,
displaced by the cunning air
in an odd synchronicity
which cavorts with my mind,
a nameless advent
a voice in my head
says to ignore the news,
make a lover of the duvet
and I resolve play Vaughan Williams
around the clock,
cry out my heart to his glorious fifth
till that sweet second
to midnight comes