And life’s enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim
–Byron, Childe Harold
Then suddenly sunlight, warm honey
from the sky clearing rain from memory.
Birds come out, bob on the finest
branches, sing as if song were the only
natural thing. In a saturated meadow
flower-breath blooms – hawkbit,
sneezewort, yellow-rattle, sorrel – colours
glowing as if on an artist’s palette.
Daphne and the laurel bough instil
unseen truths; the golden apple of the sun
windfalls, rolls among soft buttercups
where dappled grass offers a thousand
kisses, pricks sensation until it’s stirred
like a drowsy lynx. What is all this juice
and all this joy? The glassy trees
cluster and sigh, shed a leaf or two
for suspicion’s mercy. The cloudless
vault instils a kind of sweet bereavement,
as if the yolk of our days had flown
the way of the chimney swift
and we are left open-handed, palms ripe
with emptiness. We live in time’s
pocket, tumble out like kittens being
born over and over against our will.
The human heart is a hedgerow packed
with starlings; devotion counts
in endless repetition. As Sheba came
to Solomon, so we arrive in the middle
of a scene in which all things green
sparkle near the river’s rainbow-spray.
Clean-billed, blank, unceremonious,
the air’s an invisible page, a freedom
from which to draw beneath the surface
those things we keep in hiding,
private touchstones that might sustain us.