Note: The first poem was written when my mother was in hospital (in Pau, Southwest France) for spinal surgery. The second was written after visiting Quarr Abbey monastery, where I saw pears growing, just as I remember from years ago. On the same day I saw wild plums growing on Cowleaze Hill, between Shanklin and Bonchurch.
MOTHER IN PAU, 14th JULY
Pyrenees and grape-blossom hills of Jurançon
you see from a window in the Clinic Navarre.
Feed the grapes with your sorrowing eyes: they will reward
the night with a pale flow of gold, a blaze of blue shade;
on your suffering shedding its hurt, a new lease of life.
Mother I miss you, and Boris’s Britannia a boat on the waves
of infantile worship, stupidity and betrayal.
Today I bless the French Republic: home of Danton, Celan, and Samuel Beckett:
the red wine rains will cure a sky that suffers
and gives you back to us renewed for the journey.
CONSOLATIONS IN A MINOR KEY
At Quarr I see the ordered weave, a trellis woven with pears.
Old friend, from autumn’s bronze to fruits of summer flame.
The plum’s wild purple curves beside the road on Cowleaze Hill.
Adorning sadness with colour, things pass in shape and sound
even where friendship leaves no visible trace.
New lights in fire-forms burst the shattering gloom:
I have lived too long, if still I live at the age of thirty-one.
Consolations come, a fruitful minor key, a trellis woven with pears.