Ghost tree, the silvery poplar
When the north wind sharpens its edge
And bends the boughs along the bank
And ruffles its hand through the sedge.
Ghostly the voices that murmur
In the branches that scratch at the eaves
The sedge sighs and whispers in sadness
To the poplars’ wind-rattled leaves.
The high tide carries wild voices
When the wind scatters silvery frost
But only the poplars listen
And repeat the songs of the lost.
The countryfolk hear the lamenting
In the north wind and stop their ears
Gainst the keening that wails through the poplars
The death songs that nobody hears.
The wind from the sea
Soughs in the trees
Its sinister hiss
Like the song of the surf
As it rakes through the debris
Left by the tides
And spits out the pebbles
That stick in its craw.
Wind shakes the branches
Playing the dirge
Of drowned souls and dead stones
Full fathom five
Where cold water rolls
And above the wind cries
With their voice in the leaves
To the wide open sky.
I woke up today with a crashing migraine. Dosed up on drugs and went back to bed. When I got up this afternoon the rain was lashing down. I felt inspired.
Among the poplars
Among the poplars by the river
I sit and watch the tumbling water
Autumn swollen, brown and troubled.
I listen to the hiss of rain among the trembling leaves
And the leaden plop as sullen drops pit the water’s skin.
Memories brim over, pouring thick as bitter rain
And the steely sky a cracked mirror mocks.
Should every drop from every rain-filled cloud,
Every leaden drop, leaf-dripped and river-borne
Carry, tear-salty, a grain of pain
The ocean would groan and toss and beat upon the cliffs
The waves break in anger, splashing screaming gulls
But my heart would be no lighter, where I sit and think of you
Among the poplars, in the rain.
Editing is doing my head in—time to give it a rest. Here’s something summery and hopeful.
In the poplars on the riverbank, finches dart and twitter, gold and red, flower-bright, while a blackbird fusses among the wet leaves. River slides by, brown and sluggish, and the breeze from the ocean carries the smell of salt waves and mud drying in the sun.
In the long grass beneath the trees sits a birdcage, yellow and pink with two tiny travesties of perches. The birdcage lists in the storm-sodden earth, gaudy and cheap. Kingcups nudge the bars, and beetles scuttle across sandpaper and the rotting bone of a cuttlefish.
Above the rich mud and the slow creeping of plants, the air trembles with beating wings, with the wound-up spring of life. Swifts dart and shriek, finches trill, and sun bursts in glory from behind a bank of scudding cloud. Life sings and shivers through the long grass beneath the poplars. The first notes of a blackbird’s song ripple through the bars entwined with kingcups. Sunlight and birdsong pour over the yellow cage, and the little open door, swinging brightly in the light, summer breeze.