10 November 2014

To Snowshill

Mid-October, after noon –
the russet squirrel,

formed by dwindling leaves of horse chestnut,
waves gently
at the tall turquoise tortoise
gliding through her grounds

grey gutters lie piled in parchments,
epics of this fall, spun from
blowing billowing branches,
ships in clear sea sky

urban limes trail bronze treasures,
farm poplars stream shiny coins
and, farther, country oaks tip triumphal tokens
for the woolly folk curled
by gnarled hulls

crows spread black silk sails
on low fallow fields,
drifting higher to homesteads and gardens –
mown lawn, raked round mound,
mellow smoke

at hill’s crest long-limbed pines sweep the heavens,
tossing needles by cantering ponies
roused by whistling winds
on slick flanks

patchworks of meadows lie
blurred in descent,
hedgerows of finches thread
scarlet and amber and gold

slowing through town,
narrow streets of stone houses
cast blank looks at faltering traffic
through blinded glass eyes

haunted hall rises
stern and squarish;
the river carries maple rafts
as it sings the way

fruits tumble merrily
on damp dewdrop grasses,
fields stretch languorously
under the caresses of serene sun

woods enfold the final passage –
ash shake lithely,
a copper beech
brandishes flags

then the crunch of gravel
and a familiar raggedy bird,
winging a welcome
before joining her flock

a swig of hot apple and cinnamon
as harmonicas summon,
bells jingle on patio paving
and the dance begins.

* * *
With apologies for its late arrival (due to career commitments), here’s the beginning to the Snowshill series, an account of the journey from Cheltenham in the turquoise tortoise, aka my wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV).

In fact, the tortoise makes for fast travel, especially with the likes of Brother Adrian at the wheel. For most of our trips around the Cotswolds, I must watch ahead for the prospect of bumps and brace myself accordingly. However, occasionally we’re treated to smooth sailing and I enjoy the scenes that fly past the side windows.

I chose to write this poem in free verse to emphasise the blur of sights from Cheltenham to Snowshill, reserving rhythm for pieces describing the dances, to follow. Wikipedia has an interesting article on free verse here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_verse

I tend to feel a little uncertain when writing free verse, without the sense of purpose afforded by adhering to a strict scheme. Often I find I’ve introduced rhythm despite myself, unable to ignore the sounds of words in my inner ear. It takes effort to construct a poem that is words without song.