Saturday, 5 October 2013

WHEN we WALKED to THE wood




I CANNOT QUITE REMEMBER
              SO TELL ME...




     The day we walked to the wood... And I followed your footsteps up the steep earthen path, cut by rain and as brown as nature's womb... and when, at the steepest places, you reached out and held onto the same trees that I too hold on to; their slender trunks, wet with dew and rain and life... and you said that you could smell autumn and it made you smile as autumn always does... and we listened to the silence and a rook's call and the sound of rain falling from leaf to leaf.

              ... BUT I know there was more...
                                                      SO much MORE...

Two people cannot share an hour in the woods without experiencing a lifetime brimming over with wonder and joy... and I want to remember and to savour every single moment...

               SO TELL ME...

DID the mist hang in the air like dragons' breath so that the tops of the larches touched a different sky?

DID the chimes from the village clock roll up the hills, as sweet as carols, as soulful as owls, as lethal as quicksilver, shimmering among the beech and sycamore until only the moles and the sleeping badgers could hear it?

DID the crows rake the skies with their ragged wings?

WERE your fingers wet with rain drops that hung like glass globes from each leaf and branch and blade?

DID we dance together to the ancient music that the trees sing? And if not, why not?

DID we really meet the hermit who lived in the brushwood shelter, who smoked a briar pipe, and who sang songs and brewed coffee too bitter to drink? And did we sit with him beside his fire to listen to stories of love and hope and of friendship that is greater than both, while badger cubs dozed between his feet?

WERE there pink mallow and yellow cats ear and wood aven that outshone the sun among those dying leaves?

DID we taste together blackberry and wild sorrel's bitter-lemon bite?

DID we stand together upon the cracked concrete of the old airfield, now welcomed back by the wood, and listen, among the mist and the dripping leaves to the crackle and hiss of wartime music and the thud of distant bombs and the sadnesses they bring?

WERE there crab apples and rose-hips and bread-and-cheese leaves, and did we run our fingers, crimson with blackberries, through willow-herb's matted beard?

WERE your scarlet paths aisled with Lords-and-ladies and around your throat did you wear black bryony's bloody necklace?

DID the clouds part and the sun pour down upon us honeyed warmth so we walked through a dappled landscape where Cain was unborn? And I marvelled at the chalk-blue sky and you blew upon a dandelion-clock that was a perfect sphere and feathered-time drifted from your lips and out over field and hedgerow where the soft-eyed cows grazed.

WERE the fields filled with crane flies that rose with each footfall and heralded our way with elven wings?

DID the wind turn and ravage the world with ice and snow so that your breath burned in warm clouds and your nose turned red? And did you say, "This is Narnia" and I replied, "Yes. And below us lies the valley of Huntercombe where the Walker and the Rider and King Arthur meet." But neither of us could feel anything malevolent about the friendly, dancing flakes.

DID I see joy and wonder in your eyes, darting and flaming like fireflies (though I was afraid to look too closely), so that I too could see the world as you see it?

WERE there Chinese lanterns glowing again like painted planets in the Rectory garden below us and was there an accordion playing and the sound of a woman singing beneath the Harvesters' Moon?

DID dragons come and play at your feet? And each tree limb burst into bloom? And golden leaves and butterflies cascade from the skies? And was the world filled with God's laughter?



Perhaps ALL... or perhaps just SOME of this really HAPPENED...

I cannot precisely remember...
                    So tell me about the day we walked to the woods
                           and I followed your footsteps up the steep earthen track...

22 comments:

  1. delicious personal internal translations/interpretations of an experience shared by two.
    I wonder of what you were afraid to see in her eyes?

    come follow my muddy boot prints..

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    1. Ah, eyes are such powerful and dangerous things. They need to be handled with care!

      Muddy boots and soggy socks :)

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  2. Oh wow this was captivating. What an amazing writing style you have.

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    1. Thank you, I am so glad that you enjoyed it.

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  3. I love your interpretation of an English woodland walk; adventure, into another realm. Maybe? Perhaps all of it is true, if only in your imagination.

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    1. Exactly, Kelly. You've really got to the heart of it (or at least one of its hearts!!); the relationship between perception and imagination and experience - where does one end and the other begin?

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    2. That, my friend, is a conversation that requires a kettle of tea and long evening of philosophical banter that I wish we could do online. I enjoyed my "Reason and Imagination" class as a grad student, but unfortunately, we did not discuss it in a way I would have liked. But, keep the posts like this coming!!! :)

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    3. But, memories are savored to be enjoyed long after the moment has passed, and although we can never participate in that moment again, we can linger over it for a long time to come (if only in our minds).

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    4. I think you are right - my earliest memories, I know, are an amalgam of memory and later interpretation of those events (as well as some projection). They are no less precious for that nor are they any less formative and important to the way I embrace life today. What seems to matter more to me, is what feelings those memories evoke.
      I love the idea of a kettle of tea and a long evening!
      As a student (and now as a lecturer) I have found that the most productive explorations occur outside the classroom after the lecture/seminar :)

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  4. Awesome write, like the ending the best, perhaps or perhaps it all was the best haha

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    1. I see what you did there! Haha
      Glad you liked it, Pat. :)

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  5. Sublimely-Beautiful my friend..your poems are so alive and awake for me..and always a very multi-sensory experience for me....dragon's breath..hermits...the smell of Autumn...such magical language all throughout...you write and speak like no other! I love the weaving images, the layers and perceptions of memory and myth and truth.. all intertwined..and witnessing them all as I read..like a visual journey playing out! . Thank youf or your amazing poetry!
    Victoria

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    1. Victoria, thank you so much for such a lovely comment. Yes, I love the way our perception and memory is made of so many different layers combining to create our realities.
      I really miss your writings ... no pressure, though! ;)

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  6. I keep coming back to your page to keep looking at and listening to the same things. It's so beautiful. Stunning words and images.Incredible.

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    1. Thank you, Angela. I am really touched by your comment. It is amazing that words can reach across such distances and touch hearts.

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    2. I still think that this is honestly the most beautiful piece of prose I've ever read. Beautiful.

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  7. you''re gifted with a poetic and inspiring soul Richard. i do like to take my time to read people's blogs and when i eventually find the right time i sip in every word, picture, sound, emotion. Thank you for sharing this with us all.
    "Perhaps ALL... or perhaps just SOME of this really HAPPENED..." so often i find myself in those words. What is real?

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    1. Oh, now that IS a question!! :) I rather get the question that he modern tendency to equate reality with reducing everything down to the material is inadequate. Though addressing a different issue, I love Pascal's suggestion that 'The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."
      Thank you for leaving such a wonderful comment.

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  8. My dear friend,

    To the flowers created by reading this text, my eyes touch the words of a natural simplicity.

    I wish you a great week full of words.
    Yannis Politopoulos

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    1. Those are really beautiful words, Yannis. Thank you so much. It is so good to see you are well and to read your blogs again.

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  9. Wow! Thank you for sharing your words. Listening to your story, it was almost as if we were sitting by a nice warm fire enjoying a cup of tea. You are very gifted, Sir.

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    1. Thank you Maera. I love that thought; sharing stories around a fire, wonderful :)

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For your voice is important... and words that are shared grow wings.