Feeling the Tension

Your monuments, what do they mean?

Build your stone high and shout your deity.

Hope that the stone outlasts the age

Hold tight to written, lawful piety

And when the old roots wrack your faith

When the cold moon bites and rags your mind

How do you hold on to the bitter dregs?

How do you slip into your role assigned?


Old shadows creep and stretch before your feet

Old lanes and lines cross across your path

You’re happy to bask in summer’s generous warmth

Are you willing to take the lash of winter’s wrath?


Look at the stone path, that’s where you tread,

Turning away to turfed green paths that roam.

Is it because your faith outlasts the stone?

Or do you listen when your soul hears home?

Thanks to the Grumpy Old Gods Anthology coming out on 1st April, I was thinking about the tension between old faiths and new and I was reminded of this poem originally posted on a former blog on 4th April 2018. I hope you enjoy.

Love Spell

Cast your power over me,
Burn it to the sky.
You cast a love spell over me –
You’ll own me till you die

Now I am dead and gone, my dear,
And you are living still.
The spell persists beyond the veil
And wraps around my will

But things are different in the dark,
So much is clear to me,
The lines of magic run two ways
Though I cannot break free

For many years I was your love,
For many years your slave.
And still you feel my dead heart close
Still linking from the grave.

I’m standing at your shoulder now
I’ll never leave your side
You made your bed, now lie in it,
The love spell never died

So do your dreams grow dark, my dear?
Do your days drag long and grey?
You took my will away from me,
It’s time to make you pay.

Dreaming

As I sleep, my faerie lover

Curls against my back and sighs

Deep in slumber, resting with me

Dreaming of pearlescent skies

Matching me in dreaming’s dances

Stepping through my idling mind

Petals fall in springtime meadows

As winter’s cares are tossed behind

When I wake, I don’t remember

In the dirty light of day

My days are creeping through my autumn

But in my sleep, I dream of May.

First and Third Saturday

gray concrete cross on green grass field during daytime
Image by Waldemar Brandt found on Unsplash

This was first posted some time ago, and was inspired, in a way, by my late grandmother’s dedication to the family graves and how, as a small child, they seemed like such an adventure and expedition, with a ritual tidying of the grave and a milkshake on the way home.

The first and third Saturday are set in stone

And nothing may disturb them.

It is inviolable that she goes, through wind and weather

No let or hindrance permitted

First the train ride, then the bus,

Then the long walk up the wooded hill.

Dragging the flowers and the cleaning kit

Into the murmuring cemetery.

It is a ritual, disposing of the old flowers from the grave

The browned leaves and petals on the heap,

The washing of the neat urn on the grave

The snipping of the stems

The flowers renewed, she wipes the headstone,

Trims the edges, picks up the gravel

Waters the tiny alpines in the cracks

Brushes off the dead leaves.

Nothing stops the pilgrimage.

And once the grave is neatened, then she sits and reads

Perhaps in the shelter near the church

Perhaps on the stone seat near the tree

The first and third Saturday are hers, defended

And who could argue against tending to a grave.

Who’s grave?  She doesn’t know but cares

Because they gave the gift

Of the first and third Saturday, unassailable.

Sparrow

Flit through the branches, bounded by brambles, nimble witted

Squabble and scatter, chatter and chase, dawn clatter and dust-baths

Tiny not timid, tenaciously territorial, quicksilver to the seed heads

Singing from gutters, pattering on pavements, defying the traffic

Unruly urchin birds, diminutive, darting and dashing

Yet cousins to swans

Photo by Nastya Kvokka on Unsplash

Not Death

So slowly creeps the lichen in the sun

And slowly the trees stretch their arches

Spreading shade over the green acres

Where the snails leave their silver paths

 

Slow too is the slow rise of the hedges

But beating quicker is the grass,

Which is pinned by the spring daisies

Lest it rise to the clouds

 

Beating quicker are the green shoots

Twining at the base of the hedges

In the corners of the dim shade

At the base of the stones

 

And the spring bulbs are bursting

And leaves push out and up to sunshine

As the first bees harvest the dying grave flowers

Warmed by the growing sun

 

Birds flit, their shadows racing

Across wood and stone and grass

As the fledglings call and cry

Daily getting nearer to their own flight

 

And underneath, the shy voles

Scamper and search among the offerings

Tiptoeing through last year’s leaves

Slipping down the root tangle

 

And in a corner, busy ants

Harvest the crumbs and keep their march

As their nest warms in the mild sun

And the petals are dropping.

 

This is no place of death

This is a place where the dead remember

The rushing, pushing, pulse of spring

And celebrate their life.

Image from the Swedish National Heritage Board and used under the Creative Commons Agreement

Meet for Lunch

I know the step I have to take,

I know the choice I have to make.

I smile and try to take a bite,

My mouth is dry, my throat is tight.

I take a sip of lukewarm tea,

Look up and see you watching me.

I hoped that we would share a meal

Before I tell you how I feel.

Aware of hurt and furtive looks

I blurt out, ‘your new sandwich sucks.’

Feeling the Tension

Your monuments, what do they mean?

Build your stone high and shout your deity.

Hope that the stone outlasts the age

Hold tight to written, lawful piety

 

And when the old roots wrack your faith

When the cold moon bites and rags your mind

How do you hold on to the bitter dregs?

How do you slip into your role assigned?

 

Old shadows creep and stretch before your feet

Old lanes and lines cross across your path

You’re happy to bask in summer’s generous warmth

Are you willing to take the lash of winter’s wrath?

 

Look at the stone path, that’s where you tread,

Turning away to turfed green paths that roam.

Is it because your faith outlasts the stone?

Or do you listen when your soul hears home?

Originally posted April 4th 2018

As It Should Be

 

Tell me again, about the fight

And how you fought it to the damnation

See me writing how you fought the fight

And I look on and nod in admiration.

Hey, look at you, I lean in closer

You fought the fight and here I am admiring

You are the destiny, I just cook the meals

You come home to a hero’s welcome

And as I scurry round to find the feast

And wonder whether the wine will last the night

Tell me again about the fight

And I’ll make sure an audience awaits.

I do a thousand thousand tiny works,

I find your shield and shirt and sword

And lay in preparations for your feast

And wonder if I’ve done enough

So here you are, hero and warrior wild

And I am grateful that you stoop to me.

You are the centre of the bardic tales

And I, peripheral, will worship thee

 

Originally posted February 2nd 2018

Harbour

Image from WikiCommons, taken by Rev Dave and used under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

I have a dream where the dusk is falling

And I can hear the sound of the sea birds calling.

The wind is soft and the air is warm,

The storm has passed and the sea is calm.

The fishers are home on the turning tide,

Their boats tied tight to the harbour side.

The steps lead down to the quay below,

Clean and safe in the lamp’s soft glow.

Just step, I know, on the wide, stone stair.

Just step, in the soft and dreamy air.

A gentle path to a solid quay.

And a harbour safe waits there for me.

Originally posted December 2nd 2015