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.
Worlds fly by. Years pass. The great hole
Of the universe stares back blankly at us
While you, my shattered senseless soul
Harp on and on about happiness.
Happiness? What's that? Shadows of dusk
On dank grass in the thick of the wood.
Pleasure pickled in the putrid sweetness
Of wine, desire, and all the juices of the blood
Happiness? What is it? A moment's relief.
A brief spell of unconsciousness.
Then you're up and before you know it, off
on this senseless hurling whirligig.
A sigh. A respite. An instant suffice
to get back your breath, just enough
before the wheel turns, lurching to the side
on another plane, humming like a top.
And gripping for our lives to the steely wires,
deafened by a roar that never lets
we imagine in the blurs across our eyes
times and spaces, causes and effects
When will it stop? How can we stand
this reeling meaningless parade?
The world revolts us! Give me your hand
Brother, friend. Let's lose ourselves again.
Version by Peter Jukes of a poem by Alexander Blok