Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Secret

A promise to Carrie Clevenger...

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
― Stephen King, Different Seasons

The Secret

Time was spent once,
pouring Love on a Secret,
to the point that it peeped from a crack,
it was courageous and heard but retracted back,
unsure, if it was whole
or in part; uncertain if breath
was strong, 
to truly mark a heart. Bashful in sun, and blinking
in moonlight, it whispered,
under cover of stars,
still tender and restless and enclosed 
in scars, of horrors and
its previous wars; it glowed
of all the times 
it had crept out before;
hiding behind things experience 
had taught - misunderstanding,
and the terror of shame... 
The Secret had learned 
that it must not say, the heart-wants
and calls of its soul. In telling, somehow,
it had made them all go, and leave a needless pit
of disgrace; a sucking hole of usual and commonplace, 
that failed
to remotely comprehend. But the Love,
it listened, beginning to end,
drew the Secret 
from ashes, like a soaring fire-bird.
...And in the end, all it took, 
was a hand, true time, 
and actions,
that spoke louder than words.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

A Sky-Scraper and a Straw-House


At the foot of a glass-tower,
stood a house of straw,
a sign that said ‘come in’, on the little,
grass door; dry as a tinderbox, open as a soul,
it beseeched, ‘Come steal me away.’

‘Take my tomorrows, for your today, and rob me,
and ravage me,
a hundred more ways –
I need only ever,
to honour glass-grace, and know,
that strength
will look back.’

‘Lay down
their broken promises
on my straw of black,
and yellow,
and that old tide of nothingness,

and bring me all your darkest moments of mistrust;
in the early light of a dawning day.
Pile them upon me, one by one,
and I will stand firm.
I will stand firm, I say.’

Then the wind tried to howl around the little,
straw-house, tried to burrow and draw
all unconscious demons
out into the open, to eat proverbial dust,
whilst the house, in silence,
wrapped a gift of trust, and offered it,
to the tower,
without another word spoken.

Tied with a bow; it glowed;
until the glass-tower turned molten, 
consuming the straw-house, all flowing opaque.
And there,
softly staring,
back at them both;
was a strange new river,
of beautiful faith.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Wet Dawn Over Coniston

A thousand panes and a hundred
eyes; challenge swirling mist and the
morning’s, grey sky, the water’s edge is a
precipice denied, and he teeters,
to tease of old times.
Stretching columns,
like a temple of sorts, belch out fresh spirits
that seem
to purport to the hills, and the mountainous
terrain, that he has withstood
far heavier rains than these sapphires,
that tumble and roll; worse gales than
this bluster that mal-forms and
folds all the trees, like green match-sticks
or grain,
as a forest slides on clouds
to meet him again.
Slowly, and with effort,
he creeks to his feet;
polite old gent who still stands
to greet and shake hands with his welcome guests;
shoes shone and tie on,
in his Sunday, church-best; the thousand eyes glint
and his pipes puff to test, if he still
can blow smoke rings
to delight all those present.
The ghost of a moon
forms a small-smiling crescent; overhead;
as he nods, and tilts his slate cap –
still as defiant and cheeky old chap, despite all his
crumbling walls…
The lake-fog rolls over to blanket his armchair.
Be seated –
I will walk to you,
weary Coniston Hall. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Ghost of a Plan


I look at the photographs on the walls of my house – sunshine over High Force, swirling waters of Gordale Scar, and the orange light of an autumn evening as it settles over Brimham Rocks. I sweep my eyes by Malham Cove, fresh, in a winter morning, and along the edges of the Dover Cliffs… My gaze comes to rest on smiling people, their arms thrown around one another in joy, and I know, beyond doubt: I am lucky. Everything is about today now, and tomorrow, and all the wonder that I have and seek. There is no longer room for the things I have never had, or for those I have lost. It will soon be October. There is an important anniversary coming…one of freedom. Some would say of loss, or horror…I say, of freedom. A whole year since all those smiling people, should have strapped on their wings and flown. But I guess, it takes time to adapt, to 'impossible' becoming a reality.

I have never made a ‘life plan’. Some people do, I hear, but not me. No plans; I’ve had only dreams. That way, there is joy when your dreams come true, and there is sadness when they do not. You feel everything, but you do not fail – because true failure, is only ever in failing to try. And I try hard - I dream big.

The most important dream I ever had, was the one that saved me. Not in any grand, dramatic way…it just kept me, me. It was one I constructed with a friend; an escapist’s dream; when we both had equal need of it. A cottage on the cliffs by the sea, with a covered deck outside, an open fire inside…simple really. There’d be wine and cheese…and we’d watch the storm clouds roll in, and listen to the thunder. We’d just get in the car and drive there one day…no one would find us…and we were never coming home. 

The dream manifested at a point in our lives, when, for very different reasons, we were both more trapped than we had ever known. And you can’t plan for much when that’s your reality; only dream your impossible dreams. Because today, and tomorrow, and the next day, will be just like yesterday, and just like every day in the future, as far as your eyes can see – until that thing, that trapping, binding thing, beyond anything you can change or control, is by fate removed. And you say, every day: ‘when this is over’, but you never really believe that day is coming; nor can you wish for it, without a myriad of bone-crushing guilt… And so, instead, you dream. For no matter what bonds hold your body in limbo – your mind can still be free.

         *                                                                *                                                                 *

Long after liberation from unexpected chains, your old dreams give birth to the ghost of a plan. I know now, as I look at all the photographs on my walls, some day I want to show my children the world - whilst they are young enough to be awed by everything they see, and just old enough, to remember it forever. 

I dream we might take a year to do like nomads and move every week, learning more each day than a classroom could possibly teach. And when we’re done, we’ll come home, to open fields out the back and a farmhouse kitchen with a rough-hewn table, and the simple warmth of happiness, in the middle.  

That’s the dream. 

And the ghost of a plan? That my family will know what it is to be loved beyond measure, guided without judgement, and cherished without condition; to be reckless and foolish, proud and responsible…and above all, to be free. 

Perhaps there will only be money enough to show them the wonders of Yorkshire…but who says this wood is not a rainforest, this beck not a distant river? The world each day, is what you make it – and I will teach them how to dream.  No matter the burden or bond, a dreamer is always free.