Llyn Tecwyn Isaf
One step from the car we find ourselves
on an inland shore, our chat brought to a hush
by the quiet of the saint’s pool, its surface
hatched with a scrawl of reeds, the whole
held in the land’s hollow palm.
Holiness is not the sole preserve
of the godfearing : we, too, sense it –
this place throbs with the connection
of all things from horizon to horizon,
so deep that the slightest leaf-stir
might cause the universe to rock,
its branching possibles vibrating
on the inward tree of the nervous system.
Under the dome of sky, the dome of skull,
we feel the hosts of lives that cannot be
because we are, thronging close
to witness through our eyes
the daylight flaking on the hallowed lake,
everything ripe for time to make a halt.
It does not. But driving on we feel
a fullness, loving the taste of the life
we have, not godless but god-free, alive
to the wonder of the plaque of water
pinned by the heads of floating lilies
to this place on the map, as if
waiting (the ‘as if’ is crucial)
for us to pull up here, and look.
Thinking on Coldhams Common
With one genetic script to write
every tapered grassblade, plus
a single rule-set describing
the forces that shape each
dewdrop, you could generate
this entire wet grassland –
a mass of rhyming forms that catch
unnumbered samples of sunlight
and make diamond of them on this
ordinary Tuesday morning.
As my toecaps trace a diagonal
through line after line
of tussocks, I almost collide
with a boy wheeling his bike
towards me, slurring dark trails
into the field’s brightness, his eyes
hidden by mirror-shades, head
lost in a blizzard of treble spilling
from his earbuds. For the record,
neither of us says a word.
Might we two always
have known this place
with its twayblades
and viburnum, the mottled
leaves and purple spikes
of its sheltering orchids?
Did moments fall
dense as these do,
in a tent of stillness
anchored to these trees?
And were we maybe
this same flesh
on different bones,
bodying other versions
my foolish questions :
hard else to tolerate
up these hill paths,
slowly getting slower,
in hopeful search
of greened-up shoots
We need not, it turns out, have worried
about the bees : here comes the answer,
a squadron of honeybots in formation,
hovering the grid across row-planted fields,
brushing tufts of nylon against anthers
genetically lengthened for a better fit.
With abdomen enamelled in smart hoops
of black and yellow, the workers
now servicing our fields are drones,
fully programmable, stingless,
untroubled by pests and disease.
Wake up, get the dream down
on paper, quick, before it goes :
on a windless day in a city garden
a cloud of longstemmed lavender
dips its flowerheads in repeated waves
under the weight of foragers
arriving on magnetic flightpaths
despite the crisscross of wifi –
amber honeybees leathery smooth,
bumblebees with buff rump fluff,
tawny miners with their foxfur crest,
all of them long-tongued, pollen-laden,
suddenly gone, the lavender stilled.
Imagine a bee memorial
in some quiet glade,
a necropolis of sisters
lying in line upon tier
of mummifying cells,
lapped in their own wings :
a sculpted hive of gold,
and lead, and ash.
Steve Xerri is a former teacher, musician & designer who now spends his time making pots and writing poetry. He was Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017, and his work has been published or is forthcoming in Acumen, Amaryllis, Atrium, Brittle Star, Cinnamon anthology From Hallows to Harvest, Clear Poetry, Envoi, Ink Sweat and Tears, Ó Bhéal anthology Five Words Vol XII, The Interpreter’s House, Picaroon, The Poetry Shed, Poetry Society Newsletter, Proletarian Poetry, Stride Magazine and Words For The Wild.
The header photograph of the South Downs is by the author.