A bientôt, mes amis

28 July 2011 § 9 Comments

En vacances

There is a beach –
Long, quiet, silver in the sun –
Where, for a while,
I can be
Complete.
Until
At summer’s end
I leave
To spend three seasons
Living here
Half-heartedly;
Knowing exactly
Where I left
The rest.

 

Holidays are upon us, so gonecycling will be  – well, gone cycling – very shortly. Thank you all so much for your comments, support and encouragement. Looking forward to catching up with you soon.

Recidivism

26 July 2011 § 4 Comments

Fail

I tried so hard to quit:
Did my utmost to hang ‘em up,
Laboured long to let it go,
And strived to make it
Something-I-used-to-do.
I bent my will
To turn a corner
And after ceaseless struggle
Thought I’d found
A different path
And determined to walk it
Without a glance behind.

But everything about
The bike and all the life
That went with it
Just sounded wrong
When put into the perfect tense.

And so
I’ve slipped back into my old ways;
Willingly submitted
To the hard and fast rules
Of the road.

And I have to say:
Failing
Never felt so good.

Villanelle: Rehearsal

14 July 2011 § 8 Comments

Conducting experiments

It’s better than it was before.
But it must be exactly right.
Please can we try it just once more?

That’s just what I was hoping for,
You strings; you kept your bowing tight.
Far better than it was before.

Flutes: sorry to be such a bore:
Those quavers must be quick and light.
Please can we try it just once more?

Remember, trumpets: really soar
In bar sixteen – be bold and bright.
Still, better than it was before.

You’ll notice if you check the score
A rallentando – very slight.
Please can we try it just once more?

You’ve worked so long and hard, I’m sure
You’ll sound amazing on the night –
Much better than you did before.
Now: can we try it just once more?

A small tribute to our wonderful Community Orchestra conductor; a gracious lady with infinite patience and nerves of steel who gives her professional experience freely to amateurs possessed of far more enthusiasm than skill. She works us hard, sets high standards and encourages us to play music, not simply the right notes in the right order. For two hours a week, there’s no room in my brain for anything except music. And for that, perhaps above all else, I’m incredibly grateful to her.

Slipping away

7 July 2011 § 7 Comments

The long farewell

She never leaves this room
But long months
She has not been here.

The girls with their practised smiles,
Brisk words and time-is-money hands
Come and go; each routine visit
The first time they’ve ever met.

And after sixty years
He’s a stranger, too;
Well-known enough
Not to be frightening,
But no longer
The man who wrote her
Two hundred letters from the war,
Gave her three babies
And the happy home her giddy girlhood
Dreams were made of;
Filled and healed her heart
A thousand times for every time
He broke it,
And in their souls’ communion
Washed away the evils
Of the world.

Now she is reborn
Each morning;
Entering anew a world she has never seen
Does not understand
And will not know tomorrow.
A slow, sad unremembering
Until she finally forgets even
To breathe.

Too much of a good thing

23 June 2011 § 15 Comments

Losing myself

I have found myself
So filled with others’ clamour
My own word-hoard is spent and plundered.
I have measured each hour’s value
While leaving its true worth unweighed;
Made walking in the woods and fields
Another tick on the to-do list,
Gloried in the dawn departures
And burning quarts of midnight oil,
Talked of plans and strategies,
Of doing, being, wanting more.

So I must lose myself
Again; become forgetful,
Run my hands along the bark
Of growing trees, watch the wind
Turn ash-leaves silver,
Smell the grass the cows have trodden,
Find my old ways through the woods.
And if I wander far enough
I know that I will meet myself
Coming back again.

The longest day

22 June 2011 § 9 Comments

The longest day

I need not wait
Until the earth
Tilts my hemisphere toward the sun
At twenty-three degrees:
For me
The longest day
Can come on any given date:
Each time I find myself
Confined indoors by work or weather;
When the phone is ringing
Constantly, each call adding another hair
To this shirt of mine;
When the bike betrays
A secret creak or nervous tick;
The hunting-dog goes lame or off his food;
The numbers topple
No matter how I stack them;
The lame knee does protest too much;
Or one of my beloved girls
Is gone.
Days stretched and overstuffed with hours,
That end in nights
With far too few.

Perspective

12 June 2011 § 6 Comments

Weatherproof

Seen from inside
Outside
Is a grey hell:
Trees in full leaf flayed by a west wind
Thrash and hiss with spray
A ten-tenths sky leans on the land
Like a drunkard on a doorpost
And next-door’s downpipe
Mumbles an ostinato in its throat.

I stand under the wood’s dripping eaves,
Smiling warm, watching the hunting-dog
Gun down rabbits in the wet field.
No rain reaches beneath my hat-brim;
My jacket turns the wind’s blade like a shirt of mail;
In these boots I could wade a river.
No such thing
As bad weather:
Just the wrong clothing.

 

No place to go

4 June 2011 § 6 Comments

Memory Lane

I started down it
Thinking –
Boy
I’m glad to be back
Here. Faces were familiar
Seemed pleased to see me;
Places appeared
Just as I left them
And every breath was charged with scents
Unchanged by clock or calendar.

But soon
I found the surface breaking up
Sharp shards of recollection
Getting in my shoes
Things long-buried
And best forgotten
Dug up and left along the roadside
Heavy traffic coming fast
Round blind corners
And no sign that suggested
It led anywhere at all.

Co-dependency

24 May 2011 § 9 Comments

Riding for a fall

Months, years go by
Without a sign
A whisper
Or a look between us.

Then you appear
Out of nowhere;
Same as you ever were,
Still knowing just how
To flip me inside-out:

Never when
I’m enjoying my eight hours
Content with tea
And pulling my own notes
Warm from the hole-in-the-wall,

Oh no:

You wait till
I’m clawing at heaven
Biting down on every thought
Wearing each day like a shirt of mail
And mapping my ceiling in the dark.

Then you
You burst back in
Dressed up as The Answer,
All soothing words and familiar touch.

But I’m still me
And you’re still you.
And, as usual, I’m left wondering
Which one of us can’t quit the other.

Resurrected

24 April 2011 § 4 Comments

Good Friday

Easter last, my body
Betrayed me;
And after all I’d done for it, too.

Overuse, genetics,
Or a fractional misalignment
Of joints and bearings turning over
Hundreds of hours and
Thousands of miles
Hammered nails
Into my bones
And all I’d known and been and loved
Was left to die.

I cried out
In the darkness

And my God
Did not
Abandon me;

So now you see me
Resurrected;
The veil of fear and anguish
Ripped in shreds and whirled away
In my busy slipstream.

And all that had seemed
Dead and buried
Is restored to me
And glorious.

Today
Is a good day.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who sent good wishes after my last, rather gloomy, post; things are a lot better now. This time last year, I thought my cycling days were done: on Friday, I took the Madone for a spin and it was just like old times. No pain, no taking-it-carefully, just spinning along on a big gear in the sunshine, feeling fast, fluid and strong again. I know there will still be less-good days (I am who I am) but this Easter weekend has reminded me just how much I have to be thankful for – including the wonderful support I get here.

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