Poem ‘Molehill’

Molehill

Scafell Pike was a few miles distant.
Not visible.
But this was England’s highest point.
“A molehill!” he said, while we sat
laughing at each other from our tatty
old sleeping bags.

You should have met my Swedish
friend, a cabinet maker
resident somewhere in Switzerland,
accustomed to real
mountains and the exuberant air.
We got on like the proverbial house,
cooling it down with his wit, my
natural reserve, but we had
Abba and Borg and now the Buddha
in common – what was there not to like?

“But who is this Borg?” he said.
“Didn’t you know? Back home we say ‘Bory’.”
Really? Well I thought that wouldn’t do, shocked
out of my anglo-centric world.
But I trusted my sudden blond friend,
this infectious alpine Swede.

“And watch out for the snails!” he said, leading
us to the huge white tent.
Yes, weren’t they lives, too? just
not with our potential
to love and to care – though how often do we choose?

“Maybe on a clear day?” I said, pausing
by the entrance, pointing towards
where Scafell Pike might be.
He laughed. “Not in a billion years!” he said,
with his arresting smile

© copyright David F. Barker 2012

Poem ‘The Californian’

The Californian

To this day I don’t know for sure
who you were.
You sounded American
and dressed like a Californian,
or that’s how it seemed
to my parochial mind.

I wasn’t used to your friendliness,
being spoken to so kindly
by a complete stranger,
but then, that was the thing —
I felt I knew you.
Why didn’t I ask your name?

The event had brought us together.
Now we waited for the train
to take us back through Cumbria’s
rounded hills, always threatened by rain.
And true to form, despite it being July,
we found ourselves sheltering
in a little cafe, sipping bad coffee
made more palatable with cream.
That’s where I saw you surfing
in my mind’s eye,
feeling that smelting sun sink
beyond an ocean of glass.
We had just enough time
to assess our few days
in the company of a Buddha.
At least that’s what we said, if I recall,
and that we, too, might be Bodhisattvas!
And who’s to say we weren’t right?

Even now, when I play that album,
I keep looking at the picture
of the kind-looking man, all smiles,
with the sweet and beaten guitar.
He still looks an awful lot like you

poem and image © copyright df barker 2012