Sunday, October 12, 2014

Little Patroness

[from: The Recollections of Jonathan Eastwick]


On one bright mid-autumn day,
after many days of grey,
I put my books and things away
and slipped out on my own.
     My work I put aside,
     routine habit I defied,
and I slipped out on my own.

The air was filled with golden light,
elms and oaks were blazing bright,
the world was glad with all its might
as I stepped along alone.
     Yellow leaves and red
     swung above my head
as I stepped along alone.


I strolled first down Magnolia Street
with cobbled bricks beneath my feet
and then turned onto Bracken Street
towards the graveyard there.
     Past a grand estate,
     through an iron gate,
I entered the graveyard there.

If I had to be a restless revenant,
Rose Hill I would choose to haunt;
but no one would I scare or taunt,
I would simply wander there.
     Among the old trees
     and the ossuaries
I would simply wander there.

The monuments of grey sandstone
with amber light at mid-day shone;
it seemed to me I was all alone
and could take a needed rest.
     It had been my aim
     to rest my frame
and so I took my rest.

Against a headstone I reclined,
the fretful world seemed far behind,
my troubles I put out of mind
and then drifted off to sleep.
     A gentle breeze
     was in the leaves
as I drifted off to sleep.


I dreamed of a small crowd on its way
towards me in the light of day
weeping under clouds of grey
bearing a coffin of wood.
     A mournful choir
     in black attire
bearing a coffin of wood.

Into the shadows I hid from sight,
but remained to watch, if I might,
the unfolding of this funeral rite
which was curious now to me.
     The one whom they bore
     and were mourning for
was curious now to me.

The procession came closer and I saw
that the coffin they carried was very small,
for a person no more than four feet tall
and so I shuddered where I stood.
     A sorrowful sight
     was a coffin so slight
and I shuddered where I stood.


They brought their burden to the very stone
where moments before I had reclined alone
- a rudeness I committed unbeknown! -
and to a hole there delved in the earth.
     A rectangle of soil
     by no sign of toil
had been somehow delved in the earth.

At that point I became aware
of a light about me bright and fair;
I turned to see close by me there
a girl of about six or seven.
     Watching the scene
     behind an evergreen,
a girl of about six or seven.

In a sleeping-gown she stood there,
her cheeks were flushed, her feet were bare
and white as snow was her long hair
- then she turned and looked at me.
     With cheerful eyes
     under cloudy skies,
she turned and looked at me.


A light was in her smiling face,
a profound joy, a tender grace;
a flower of the human race,
yet not quite of this world.
     I could tell this child
     who sweetly smiled
was not quite of this world.

Her rapt attention again she gave
to the solemn assembly at the grave;
I stepped towards her, feeling brave,
for with her I wished to speak.
     A luminous pearl
     was this little girl,
and with her I wished to speak.

Stepping on leaves as quiet as I could,
I drew quite close to where she stood;
then she spoke, as I hoped she would,
and pointed with her little hand.
     Towards the crowd
     in grief now bowed
she pointed with her little hand.

"See my mommy," the little girl said,
"my dear daddy too, and my uncle Ed,
all very sad because I'm...dead
- sad because I died so young."
     I thought I saw
     a teardrop fall
when she said "because I died so young."

But somehow her joy, which shone so bright,
was undimmed by grief and suffered no blight;
both mingled together with greater light,
and with greater beauty and joy.
     It did her endow,
     I know not how,
with greater beauty and joy.

And the radiance did not cease to grow,
but all around her did it hallow;
even the mourners, in the glow,
became joyful to behold.
     In the blessëd light
     they all shone bright
and were joyful to behold.

In the same light too, I knew at last
that these were glimpses of the past,
long shadows that the years had cast
now part of something bright.
     Shadows stark
     no longer dark
but now part of something bright.


I looked long at that little child
so innocent and undefiled,
and, with my mind quite reeling wild,
I asked her then a question.
     I had a thought
     and so I sought
to ask her then a question.

"You weren't yet eight at the time you died,
were you baptized?" (She nodded, smiling wide.)
"So, if to good teaching I abide,
you then flew straight to Heaven.
     Indeed is it true
     at death that you
then flew straight to Heaven?"

As if amused by my theological reasoning,
she gave a small laugh, and then began singing!
And in some far distance, bells were ringing
and all the clouds drew back.
     A heaven of gold
     was there to behold
when all the clouds drew back.

The graveyard then became a garden fair,
with bright flowers blooming everywhere
which filled with fragrance the golden air
shimmering all around.
     The light from the skies
     was in my eyes
and was shimmering all around.


Then to the girl I spoke once more,
telling her how I was wretched and poor,
but I longed to reach that Blessëd Shore,
would she pray for me from there?
     In my distress,
     be my patroness
and pray for me from there?

She smiled and whispered "yes" to me,
and then she herself made a plea:
would I please remember her family
whenever I said my prayers?
     Of course, said I
     until I die,
I would remember them in my prayers.

She said their surnames were Collins and Braeme,
and that "Katie" was her own given name;
I then assured Katie it would be my aim
to daily pray for them.
     Agreed were we:
     she would pray for me
and I would daily pray for them.

Beaming, she reached up a hand to me
and, in taking it, I was made to see
something akin to eternity
shining within her eyes.
     The skies above
     and endless love
were shining within her eyes.

And then I saw her hoar-frost hair
become brown ringlets as she stood there
crowned with many flowers fair
framing her joyful face.
     Blooms all bright
     in the golden light
framed her joyful face.

The light shone brighter from the skies
and overwhelmed my bedazzled eyes;
I saw the child began to rise
and then she disappeared.
     In my sight
     was blinding light
and the child had disappeared.


I awoke still reclining against the stone
still in Rose Hill, still alone;
high in heaven, the sun still shone
and with a hand I was reaching up.
     Towards the light
     shining so bright
with a hand I was reaching up.

I roused myself and stood upright;
the world was fair in the autumn light.
I turned around, and what caught my sight
was the stone on which I had leaned.
     An epitaph was there
     which I now share
from the stone on which I had leaned.

It read: KATIE COLLINS is buried here,
Our Only Child, Our Angel Dear.
And judging from dates which were not quite clear,
she was almost seven when she died.
     A century ago,
     and now I know,
she was almost seven when she died.

The headstones around hers bore the names
of her mother Elizabeth, her father James,
and other Collinses, and many Braemes,
her dearly beloved kin.
     And pausing there,
     I said a prayer,
for her dearly beloved kin.

I lingered some time in old Rose Hill,
wandering about until the day grew chill;
I strolled home with the sun behind a far hill
painting the sky with gold.
     A gentle breeze
     was in the leaves
and the sky was painted with gold.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

fevered dreaming

metal shavings, braided wire
magma apples, ocean fire
fossil hailstones from the sky
sad clowns trying not to cry
foxes eating desert sand
a keyhole carried in the hand
the sun grown weary of the heat
bison running down the street
a sky full of silver polka-dots
bonfires of plums and apricots
the blinding beauty of the clam
an uncooked slice of Christmas ham
faces covered with many words
discovering that bees are really birds
a river clogged with wooden dolls
leaves falling over waterfalls
watching an acorn as it dies
watching an acorn as it dies...

Friday, October 10, 2014

I was missing you

[From: "Songs and Verses" by C. James Gwyllyn]

I was missing you
among the stars
and the golden moon
at nocturnal noon.
I was missing you.
I was missing you
out in the groves
of almond trees
touched by a breeze.
I was missing you.

I was missing you
beyond the clouds
all shining bright
in the morning light.
I was missing you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

These cornfields

These cornfields now are withered seas
teaching autumn mythologies
with crackling voices to the crows,
their credo as the cold wind blows.

The sun bows to the harvest moon,
the star-lights will be kindled soon;
the wind blows through the golden light
now fading fading into night.

These cornfields study in their sleep
and rustle parchments that they keep,
until the dawn when autumn glows
and once again they teach the crows.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Holding my breath

Holding my breath...and the memories remain
of moonlight on the waves and the sky without a stain
and flowers of night I had never seen before
shining blue and white as they bloom upon the shore
then fade away, then fade away.

The summers die before they have a chance to live;
the hourglasses spill, they have no more time to give.
Our feet were washed by the waters of the sea;
the sounds of falling waves and your laughter next to me
now fade away, now fade away.

I am leaving the sand spilled wide across the shore
where flowers of night will be shining nevermore.
But recalling the light and the beauty left behind
and holding my breath I find they linger in my mind
then fade away, then fade away.