The simple joys of home: a bunch of daffodils, a bowl of hyacinths, blue and white pottery, candlelight and starlight, all can lift the spirits without expense. Today I have chosen one of mine, previously unpublished, because it goes so well with this photo and Maureen’s hyacinths, and Brian Johnstone’s meditative poem rounds off beautifully.
Photo Credit: Lucy Byrne
While the sky shimmers like shot silk,
chimney pots a toothy smile,
I count the pots, 1 2 3 4 5.
On my kitchen table, sheets and sheets
of screwed up poems,
I will flatten them tomorrow
for shopping lists.
While perfumed smells of hyacinths
bring memories of my mother:
‘they make lovely Christmas presents’
she would say, as she potted and tended …
The evening moves along
as evenings do…
The moon a half golden bracelet.
The sky cluttered with stars.
All is still, no cars, no trains.
And in this stillness
the midnight robin sings.
First appeared in her pamphlet Midnight Robin, published by Poetry Space (2014)
This is the still time of year.
The snows have gone,
melting back into the atmosphere.
Not even snowdrops dare to break
the frosty earth. Indoors in their china bowl
paper-white narccissi sail like stars
against the window’s glossy black glass,
unnatural, forced from the bulb too soon.
The new year’s bombs lie undetonated.
Storms must be weathered.
This is the still time of night.
I am trying to unbury the past,
to find flowers still hidden in the bulb,
this time to nurture them.
Mrs Baxter’s Lang Rig, St Andrews
The sense of habitation
this stone-built structure gives
has married three to one,
placed human souls
between the meat and wine,
with fire to warm and candlelight
to talk or dine by, here
where garden gives to orchard
and the walls protect.
This simple grasp of needs sets
pigeon boles in tiers to fill
the attic space with burbled song,
the while to raise
as fowl. The table waits below.
Beneath its feet the vaulted cellar
houses vintage upon vintage
labelled, racked, awaiting hands
to pair them to the meal,
to light the wick and kindle flame,
to feast on what this space
has stored against
the cold of winter, summer heat,
the fuss and bustle
of the house and its affairs
all left behind, deferred
to this retreat inhabited by ghosts
conversing, raising up a glass.