If you take as time

If you take as time

If you take as time
all the threshing and winnowing
then the grain is
what you have carried outside time. 
You cup them in your hand –
glimpses, glimpses. 
From such fine grain
life once escaped the inert
 and made the dust bring forth for ever.

the flowering weed

the flowering weed

For generations we had waited
as incomplete as all the others standing in their doorways.
And even yet we steal each other, 
a double theft, my Lara, your Zhivago –
our love illicit, not a garden flower
but a flowering weed that grew
brilliantly in crevices of rock
long before man ever cleared a plot of ground
and planted by intent.

trees’ end

trees' end

       We seem to know
the place already, meeting at the trees' end. 
Have our ancestors been here? Each
know the path the other has come by, 
though I've not tracked through your bright fields
nor you my woods. 

                                 We seemed to know
that something was expected, 
and we found we loved
neither was surprised
but only glad this was the place
our blood remembered a thousand years
since we were children first.



    Of all my seasons this
has been the longest and the sweetest summer
    and it's to stay for ever.
    Sap in our green is bliss
running through all our stems so wilfully
    no season's cold can sever
the wild exquisite flow.
You lie at my roots, I at yours,
     our green oak spanning
     where we lie loving low.

We came together, two springing streams, two dawns,
     two single visions scanning
     adjacent valleys that led -
how could we guess? - each to the same deep stream.
     Oh what a sunny river
     what a clear stream-bed
what green and secret banks and lazy bends,
     swift lights that quiver
     through leaves on our surfaces.

Your in unfathomable eyes and limbs
     are summer's sap and stream
     and all that by nature nurses,
By love, life back into life where life
     had all but ceased to gleam.


letter on the Upper Nile

letter on the Upper Nile

     And taking our your letter under dusk's long firmament

     I let the words you wrote fly upwards like fleeing birds,

     and high among their fellow birds they swung and swirled

     and wove the whole deep sky into a seamless garment

     of blue gone to black and star-gold, in which we two were furled.

     So we lay all that night, wrapped in your canopy of words.

     And all that was created wild, river and rock and air,

     lay in complicity with us: the water swirled the stone,

     found out its crevices, the river's bed a bed

     for lovers; and air lay with earth and made a fervent pair.

The torrents of our eyes spated the water, our love-sighs fed

the wind, and in our triumph nothing was loveless or alone.

Blue Nile Gorge

Blue Nile Gorge

O shall I find a way to conjure you

      Across the wandering spaces?

Or in the bombardment of black and broken water

       And in these canyoned places

That magnify all sound and wash my skull

       Ear through to ear, shall I capture

One single cry from you, one smile or sigh

        That recollects our rapture?

The cascading of your love is far too sweet

         To share such savaging,

And the depths of your wild eyes too silent and clear

         To mingle in this blind raging.

Yet here within, beyond all space and sound

        That are themselves messageless,

In the beat of my own heart I catch a throb of yours

        That slakes my loneliness.

winter’s morning

winter's morning

      What is this love to you? – no more
       than a web woven of parting and absence,
       a cradle the frost spins for evanescence
       and fixes at three trembling points or four
       between reed and reed at the lake's brink
        on a winter's morning? Or do you see
        us two linked only by fragile tracery
        of long-wintered beeches? Or think
        we run ripples on the lake?
       as frail as these have a place in nature, 
       vanishing always between past and future, 
       and in love too is a place for yearnings
       and the torture of wind in the web and high
       mockery of leafless twigs. 
But where am I? 
O come and find me where the rock gives birth
in the deep luxurious hollows of the earth
and find me in the boles of mighty trees. 
Find me and love me in the mosses of my ease
where lusty roots and limbs timelessly  writhe, 
where our long summer's buried but alive. 

at destination

at destination

Do you know there are two roads?
We take them both. 
We take the hard highway, scuffing the gravel
with determined stride; and with us travel
innumerable friends and strangers, loath
within the crowd to hazard separation
on the sun-drummed route towards a destination
not one of us shall ever reach. 
But you and I
take also another road that the high-grassed fell
hides from the mob – a pathway plunging  a dell
undergrown too deep for any raiding eye
to delve our leaf-funnelled passage. 
Darling girl, 
here in this tree-borne birdsong and the hollow curl
of water at our feet, we two can stray
where we will – at destination all the way. 



At first it was only the rock-face that I saw,

a distant majesty of white, a hint

across the bleak sea, a glimmer reflecting,

a sun not risen yet.

Is it a rock-face?

So early in the morning there can be no certainty.

I’ve sailed this patch of empty sea before

and I had been told this was a landless ocean:

the drooped horizon and the motion of hurrying

waves the interminable narrative.

But then this rock

suggesting land – a geographic point

at which a continent leaned out and turned the dark sea

green and white.

I would not try to explore

the continent behind the shore. If this was

a swelling of firm earth out of the flux,

a site of fixity and love, I would not seek

for any further knowledge than that this land

lay here against the sea, an anchorage,

a place of stillness, joy and resolution always.


It has risen like Atlantis overnight!

     These white citadels and palaces of rock

still glisten from the oceanic suck.

And now I’m anchored here and gone ashore,

climbing again and again above the rhyming

breakers into our tilted fields to lie

beside you in the sun, I ask if this land

that claims eternity will not sink back

another night beneath the impenetrable drift.

the river

the river

You stood on the other bank,
the river between.
Each waded into the mainstream
to touch fingers
before the force and depth
swept us away for ever.
Fingers touched and more, clasped
four-legged against the current,
then were we lifted, borne away
and could not clamber back
nor even drown,
for we’d become the river.