Posts Tagged river

THE OUTING

Each Armistice Day, she remembered it.
A walk along the riverbank. Her teacher took them –
one Saturday when the hawthorn was out
and the river slow after weeks of sun –
her and three of the other older girls.
Miss Davies’ young man came too –
in his uniform, on leave from the front.

When they all rested in the shade of a willow,
he unwrapped a large bar of chocolate
slowly, looking away, or pretending to,
across the river.  Suddenly he turned.
‘Voila!’, he said, holding it out to them.
‘Pour vous. From plucky little Belgium.’

Miss Davies and her young man went and sat
at the river’s edge, their heads almost touching.
Two of her friends began whispering – another
pursed her lips and kissed the air. The others giggled.
She lay back – and squinted at the sun through the branches.
‘Look’, said one of the girls. The soldier was pretending
to dip the toe of his boot in the water.
Miss Davies laughed.

On the way back, ‘Listen’, he said, and they stopped.
On the dappled path, blocking their way,
a song thrush was striking a snail on a stone
again and again and again.

 

 

Note: the poem was one of the first pieces to be published on the site in April 2009  and has been subsequently published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’ – http://www.armadillocentral.com/general/a-jar-of-sticklebacks-by-david-selzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CONFEDERATE CEMETERY, ALTON, ILLINOIS

All of the names of the dead are Celtic

or English. Most of them died – in the prison

near the river –  from typhoid rather than wounds.

Nobody set out to be cruel – farmers’

sons killing farmers’ sons. Their graveyard

above the bluffs was grassed, an obelisk built,

their names cast in bronze, bolted to limestone.

From the highway, there is no signage.

Eagles winter on the  bluffs. America’s heart

is green and fecund: a confluence –

Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi.

 

 

 

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THE OUTING

Each Armistice Day, she remembered it.
A walk along the riverbank. Her teacher took them –
one Saturday when the hawthorn was out
and the river slow after weeks of sun –
her and three of the other older girls.
Miss Davies’ young man came too –
in his uniform, on leave from the front.

When they all rested in the shade of a willow,
he unwrapped a large bar of chocolate
slowly, looking away, or pretending to,
across the river.  Suddenly he turned.
‘Voila!’, he said, holding it out to them.
‘Pour vous. From plucky little Belgium.’

Miss Davies and her young man went and sat
at the river’s edge, their heads almost touching.
Two of her friends began whispering – another
pursed her lips and kissed the air. The others giggled.
She lay back – and squinted at the sun through the branches.
‘Look’, said one of the girls. The soldier was pretending
to dip the toe of his boot in the water.
Miss Davies laughed.

On the way back, ‘Listen’, he said, and they stopped.
On the dappled path, blocking their way,
a song thrush was striking a snail on a stone
again and again and again.

 

 

Note: the poem was one of the first pieces to be published on the site in April 2009  and has been subsequently published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’ – http://www.armadillocentral.com/general/a-jar-of-sticklebacks-by-david-selzer

 

 

 

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ON THE NATURE OF THINGS

From the terrace at Polesden Lacey, it was

the guttural calls caught our attention –

then sheep flowing fast over rising ground

like a pale yellow banner in the wind,

then the shepherd himself, then his dogs

flattening themselves at his command.

By the time we reached the valley bottom,

the beasts were penned – lambs from ewes,

the latter funnelled for the shearers.

The bleating drowned the whirring of the clippers.

 

From the high bridge over the Tweed at Kelso,

we watched a fisherman upstream cast

from a skiff – his companion skulling gently

to keep steady in the current – when,

suddenly, between us and the men,

who, of course, were facing the wrong way,

two salmon leapt from the river six feet

or more and, turning,  re-entered the depths

silently. Oblivious, on those costly

waters, the ghillie rowed, his master fished.

 

 

 

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FAR ABOVE RUBIES

The silence woke her. Beyond the locked door

by now her maids should be chattering

in that harsh tongue. She went to the window.

Even the gulls on the battlements were mute.

And no guards on the ramparts, nobody

in the bailey. The straits were the colour

of the emerald at her neck – her father’s

wedding gift. A barque moved edgily

through the sands. Its pennants spoke of home.

The island’s coast was clear in the sun.

She imagined the light summer wind

stirring its fecund, strategic fields.

Her door was unlocked, opened and flung wide.

The Prince held a red cloth. “Cover your eyes.”

As she tied the cloth in place, he said,

“Who can find a virtuous woman?”

He put his hand in the small of her back,

steering her from her chamber into his,

impelling her to the window. She felt

the gentle air from the valley, inhaled

the woods and the river. He pulled the cloth

hard from her head.  Eyes shocked wide in death,

her lover hung from a gibbet. She watched

the body move this way, that way; listened

to the rope creak; turned to her husband.

“Until I die, I shall count the years

I will have loved him as a benison.”

 

 

Note: The poem has subsequently been published at

http://thirdsundaybc.com/2012/04/15/vol-1-no-4/

 

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