My House My house is a cabinet for small things: fruit bowl, its flashes of orange, green, the pleasure of pears, green tea, a cat that purrs, the length of a settee. Tall windows, light falls through to yellow up walls, clothes airer, often full, a wheeled dog for small steps, toy box, long staircase, banister, a wide bed for all times, the Turkish carpet to thrill the hall, a bronze elephant holds back the door. Wholehearted thanks for these good things, camera, candle, witching bowl, a lifetime of books, the earthenware plate my mother used, photographs, my grandmother’s chair, a poet’s bell, the whale on the wall, the Buddha’s stare. Rose Cook
Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings — five feet apart —
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow —
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows —
so I thought:
maybe death isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us —
as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.
With much love for my Grandad, Thomas Clarke, born 1896, who fought with the Sherwood Foresters, Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment 1914-1918 (middle of back row in photo)
Show me a greenhouse
and I catch my Grandad’s face
turning, as he bends to his plants,
his calm back rounded away
from trench war and toil.
I recall his gentleness,
the pungent hothouse smell
of tomato plants and the soil
quick with growing.
Kindness itself, he was always quiet,
would sit smoking, stare into space.
A survivor. How was it to return, to carry
those memories to the end of your days?
He never spoke about it, except to say that
the pack-mules had to be attended to first.
He was sent home with trench fever,
which saved his life.
At the eleventh hour the guns fell silent –
on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
My Grandad’s birthday.
with love Rose (Cook)
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Lone Hawthorn On The Moor
For you are ancient and withstand terrible weathers.
For you make a dark shape in winter, carry a nest.
For I saw you sheathed in frozen snow, your berries hoar.
For you grow on the crest of a slope.
For you are potent, with medicinal properties.
Wands made from you hold great power.
For in spring you are covered in white blossom.
For you are the May tree and shake confetti on the girls,
who dance around your trunk.
For you are most erotic and bless love and fertility.
For you teem with life, insects that fly and crawl, lichen
and every kind of bird wants to shelter in your branches.
For you fill with the hum of bees.
For you must never be broken, nor taken home,
For you are hope, which remains wild.
For you have thorns and red berries, which imbue meaning,
though children make itching powder, babies are fed your syrup.
For you offer protection.
For you are grizzled and grow low to the ground.