Yesterday’s dverse prompt was to write a sonnet or any other poetry form, incorporating the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays. Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a duplex sonnet. Too good a coincidence to miss, but since I didn’t warm to the duplex option, here is an ordinary sonnet with Shakespearean overtones.
Painting by John William Waterhouse.
An overarching of sky of bird’s egg blue, A sward of grassy green and golden light, All swallowed by the rising storm, the hue Of kelp, that heaves, a restless sea of night.
Like scraps of feathered day, the crow flock flees, Wings black as space among the swirling clouds, Torn from the ragged shrouds of ghostly trees That heave and sway like huddled fearful crowds,
Who watched the tempest wreck the ship that broke Upon the gale’s dark teeth. Its timbers sank Into the deeps; the bridegroom never woke, A linceul now his diamond raiment, rank.
Full fathom five, your prince, the dead man lies, No tears fall from those pearls, his only eyes.
Today this would have been my father’s birthday. He was a poet, and I think he would have liked this one.
I heard a father call
I heard a hart bark from the wooded hill, Where some days past they shot a gentle hind. Is it for one he lost, he searches still, Or does he call to one he hopes to find? We all have lost someone we never thought We’d learn to live without, their presence near, Whose voice we’d know among a million, wrought Of all the memories we hold so dear. You had your children late, grew old too soon, To see the field you sowed blossom anew, Too many suns had risen, and the moon too many cycles turned, but when you flew, You left your love of beauty in this blood; It courses strong as any bright spring flood.
Once there were lovers though not loves that last, the sentimental soppiness of youth. Once there was Romance with a capital R and words that said more than ever they meant. What we want most of all is what few of us find, the sailing and sunsets, fingers entwined, how we searched for the glossy, the magazine love, when we were green shoots, when the world was begun. I don’t wish that I’d settled for Valentine’s cards, for candle-lit suppers, a bright shiny ring, nor ask is this heart-swell in quiet of night, enough to fill skies and oceans of years. This love that I hold in the crook of my arm, is enough to build mountains, dry oceans of tears.
The dverse prompt is to write a shadow sonnet. It’s not a form that says much to me, so here’s a straightforward sonnet instead. About shadows.
Among the winter trees with damp-black bark, Across the rustling sea of last year’s leaves, Between the hours slipping, light to dark, A shadow-crowd of black-veiled widows grieves. Who stole the light and left us with the shade? What false Prometheus damped the kindled blaze And turned earth’s face away, from summer made A time of cruel claws and frost-bound days? I hear black winter’s teeth grind in the howl Of storm winds, driving darkness through the trees, When shades of famine-boned follow the owl To find the longed-for honeysuckle breeze. Yet winter shadows shrink and melt like snow, In summer shade the white wood flowers glow.
Pain is always present in the cold bite of the wind, early morning, and the dead leaves swirling, the bones, too many, too sharp beneath the old cat’s fur, the deaths and the regrets, too many, too late. They never go, the needle-pointed jabs of memory, the jolt of absences, the ghosts at the elbow, when the laughter gets too free, and the light seems so bright it will never fade. There is a reason in the ache but not a remedy, a wound but not a lesson, a scar but not a healing. The animal curls around the hurt, seeks not to measure good times against bad, to remember. Our pain is the shadow behind the sun; without it would we even feel its golden warmth?
The wind that blew all night has stripped the leaves and ripped the ivy from the wall; its hot breath bringing summer from the south has faltered, anger in its mouth. Wild storms will come, I hear the urgent call of songbirds sheltered by the wall, and nothing battles in the higher air, no wings are crumpled, tossed aside like chaff, the magpie doesn’t leave her swaying nest, a feathered anchor for her fledgling brood. I hear alarm in every leafy sigh and sough of branches, heavy with new leaf, in every flower head with petaled crown that fragile, bows, so soon to come to grief.
I’m still following some prompts, but not posting them on the different sites. I’m finding I just don’t have the time to read and reciprocate to comments. This poem, a sonnet of sorts, was written for the earthweal prompt, a reminder that we’re coming up to Bealtaine.
In this meadow where only ghost cattle low, bright buttercups bow their golden heads, blue flax flowers mirror the pale May sky. In this meadow where only ghost cattle low, lush grass growing now is cropped by the deer, a jungle where pheasants and foxes peer through stalks and stems and flowered threads. There were cattle here once but now the hare, the fox, the badger, the rabbit and deer tread wary paths the night time; no snare is set in the grass, no traps to fear, beneath the hedge where the spindle trees grow, and the fire that’s lit on this clear spring night is for ghost cattle shades, the past’s swift-winged flight.
This is the sonnet for Ingrid’s EIF challenge. It’s not a Valentine’s Day thing, every day is Valentine’s Day in this house, but there’s love in it and that’s what counts. If you feel a sonnet coming on, link it to her post so we can all read it.
To a baby not yet born
When north wind blows through ragged winter trees, Raking thorny claws through stark black hair, Silent fall the furred and feathered, these Who trembling cling to bough and brake, pauvres hères. Living in the moment, hopes of spring Are dim, when frost’s cold pelt lies on the ground, And only soul to brave the blasts and sing Is thrush, the lone unfrozen liquid sound. Could there be life beneath this frozen skin, The skim of ice on water, snowdrop-pierce, Where deer scrapes break leaf-crackling, thin As hunger clinging to the bones, as fierce? Sleep, curled in nested flesh, heart-pulsing, warm, My little one, untouched by winter’s storm.