Photos from Mark Tucker
When he laughs
It's like a waterfall
So vivid and clear it washes you back
To apples so big they have to be held
In both hands
To running with only the breeze on your skin
Clapping yourself on each new word you form
Biting your hands with excitement
Lying down rolling over
To being fearful of poppies and knots in the wood
Sure there's a spider hid in each blade of grass
Seeing the moon begging to be lifted up up up
Knowing we are always here to catch you
When I was a child
I played with childish things
Now I am a man
I play with my children
Peter Jukes 1993
for Ali and Katy
It will all be over; the trees like dark flames,
Women singing, lights in the branches,
Peculiar moon, us painting on the hillside,
The abbey bell rings, over and over...
Gone. Gone. Gone.
And yet you're tapping your feet
Wishing it all away,
Waiting for the children to grow up
Another night, another day
When it will all be over.
Impatient for the love
Yet to come, the present yet to give.
The garrigue fires, the autumn floods
Your heart. Be here.
None of this survives.
One afternoon we found
A secret bend on the river,
Sky deep blue, no worrying about the weather,
Water clear as bottle glass.
Against a large rock
We meshed a frame of bamboo
Wove rushes through the lattice,
Built a cabin on the shore
Roofed with shards of terracotta
Formed seats and hearth and door
And sheltered from the sun.
The cabin was our home,
A place only we could inhabit,
Our own small circle of stones
For just one afternoon.
Though other children will come
And wreck our hidden home,
Like stamping on a sandcastle
The bashing down as fantastic
As the building up,
And even if they can't find it
Then mistral and flash flood
Will seize our brief shelter
And scatter it like sand.
But somehow this time it doesn't matter
Hard to remember a day,
A serene perfect day,
Not clouded by the thought:
'This is fading this can't stay'.
As we leave that secret place
The mountain exhales
Cool damp evening air
And the river bends away
And a deeper peace descends on me.
You will always be here.
My daughter's getting stronger,
More surely holds herself
Day by day
She takes a few more steps
In heaps of laughter
At her own success
My daughter's getting stronger,
Knows where she is
Smiles to see us,
Yells when we leave
She's grasped that things can both be and not.
She's learned how to hold things and
Let them drop.
My daughter's getting older.
Taking a finger she
Leads us slowly around the world,
Practising how to be free and tall,
While we learn to bend to stoop to crawl.
Newton would be proud.
Refuting the laws of gravity
My daughter shakes her head with the trees,
Falls backwards down stone stairs and cries,
Picks herself up off the floor again and flies
Every hour passing faster never coming back
Peter Jukes 1993
Some images are so striking
They penetrate the memory
Before they enter the eye...
A book with a cover
Of the Man in the Moon reading a
Book with the cover with the Man
In the Moon reading...
The Hand of God
Creating fish beast fowl
The hand of a child.*
Peter Jukes 1995
* This is actually a personal memory from about the age of five, when I was asked to draw the creation scene in school. But I also found this once on the internet
A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's artwork. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.
The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."
The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like."
Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing the girl replied, 'They will in a minute."
After our games had ended
In squabbles and in kicks,
Our mouths raw and garish
From too many boiled sweets,
Once we'd spied A to Z
On registration plates
Over the blistered tarmac,
Then up we would pipe
From the back seat:
When shall we see the sea, Daddy
When shall we see the sea?
Through by-passes, fields, industrial estates
Lay-bys where we'd stop to pee, stretch legs,
And sip a thermos of milky plastic,
We'd hark for the cries
Of gulls overhead,
Desolate for the smell of the coast
And though they only wheeled
Over rubbish tips
Not five minutes passed
Before we begged:
When shall we reach the sea, Mummy?
How far is it to the sea?....
Hardly any closer, she'd say,
Since last time you asked. Or Dad:
The more you look forward
The longer it'll take.
So we'd pipe down, tune to the radio news
Bulletins unchanged all afternoon,
Stare out the window
Unable to credit or count
How many seconds make up an hour
How many waysigns between here and there
And if it isn't ages until we arrive
It won't be forever until we leave.
But over every ridge
Behind the tree silhouettes
The sky seemed to ripple, brighten
With a marine light.
And soon there'd be bungalows
With portholes instead of windows,
Yachts on the curtains, toothpaste blue,
Shells in the pebbledash. The street
Would dip away
And between b&b's, candy-floss, tar,
I see the sea. I see the sea. There it is.
Here we are.
What was it all about?
Two weeks to scour up and down the beach
Dodge turds bobbing by the outflow pipe
Lick sand off a molten ice-cream.
But nothing could defeat us,
Even at night
Sunburnt between the cool white sheets
We'd cup the shell
Of our ears to our heads
And drift off
To the waves milling the shingle
Tide rummaging the shore
Sounding like the ocean sounds