Teasing

You tease us for a day,
give us blue sky
and a warm breeze,
once the early morning
chill and mist lift
from the combes
and hillsides.

You tease us into thinking
that because you are here,
have arrived,
it is safe for us to venture out,
walk footpaths,
climb tors,
stroll gardens,
enjoying the sights:
dangling catkins,
dancing snowdrops,
delicate crocuses,
and we are willing to be lulled,
so tantalising are your offerings,
for we want you to take from us
the sting of Winter.

You tease us with
a warming sun suspended
in a bright blue sky,
but it is a rouse
and Winter-weary
we are easily taken in,
blissfully trusting
the cold and gloom
are driven back,
so out we go unprepared
believing the promise
of a clear bright morning.

Then of a sudden
you raise dark clouds
upon the horizon
blotting out the blue sky,
warm sun-drenched breezes
forgotten in an instant
as sleet-bearing winds
lash out stinging our faces
before horizontal rain
descends in torrents
obscuring the view,
pursue us scurrying for cover.

You tease us into complacency,
for we are too eager to believe
harsh Winter is gone
replaced by gentle Spring,
gullible and optimistic,
we foolishly think
and unwisely assume
your gifts set forth in
dangling, dancing, delicate
crocuses, snowdrops, catkins
mean more than what they are:
heralds, signs and promises.

Teasing February,
every year on each bright day
when the sun warms
more and stays longer,
you catch us out,
tricking us into trusting you
the seasons have
well and truly changed,
and in so doing
hope for renewal
is kindled in our souls.

 

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Chalice Well

Monday we went to Chalice Well, a favourite haunt in Glastonbury, where we are Companions. Whilst I did not initiate the idea of this venture, not that far from where we live, I was enthusiastic. When we stepped into the space I understood the reason it was so important to go there, though that was not known to me until we arrived.

My partner lay in the sun on the hill at the bottom of the precinct near the new gift shop. I, however, had things to do, things to hear and I had to do them alone.

First of all, I went back to the entrance and bought a small bottle to collect water from at the lion head fount. Then walked back up the incline to stand between the two yews that stand sentinel as one prepares to go to the healing pool. They had been staunchly reassuring as I came to stand with them occasionally during the nearly six months I had to await the final decision on my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain. They had assured me that I was rooted here. That my roots were entangled with those of the gods, ancestors and spirits of this land. They made it clear that no one had the power to remove me once I had been thus claimed. And yes I did trust them, but part of me wondered how the Home Office officials would know. Given they were working with documents well prepared and presented I must say by my immigration solicitor, who to be fair also thought I would have no trouble, but you never knew for sure until they said yes.

Moving with deliberation and openness I walked past the pool and instead took of my shoes and socks and walked in the water that flowed into it from above. It was cool and refreshing. There it was clear to me that I was cleansing myself of all the accumulated gunge that had adhered to me in the 15-year process to gain settlement in the UK. That was granted on the Autumnal Equinox, though I did not find out about it until the day after the 15th anniversary of my arrival in the UK. In the flow of that water that had stained the surface of the trough a rusty amber colour over years of mineral exposure I found I was walking into a new life. It was a stunningly simple act, but one with complexly amazing ramifications. For a while I just sat.

When it felt the time was right, I moved on up the steps to the lion’s head where the two glasses sat waters from the spring lemniscating between them. I sat on the bench hidden by the beech bower. I wrote in my journal. I was clear that a bargain had been struck between me and the gods, ancestors and spirits of the land. In that clarity I knew that because they had kept their word to me, I was now free. Freedom, however in this and every other instance entails responsibility. My freedom is granted so that I might be able to fulfil my destiny, in its fullest and broadest, widest and deepest sense. I just sat there staring at the water pouring through the lion’s mouth. Grateful, humble, terrified, cautious and joyful.

In that frame I walked to the fountainhead. I first took a drink out of each glass, then replacing them filled my little official water bottle with some lemniscated water. I washed my hands and with the glass poured water over my forehead and let it run down my face. It was truly a baptism, a cleansing and dedicatory action. I drank some more water then went to sit down before proceeding to the final stop on this impromptu pilgrimage.

Again, waiting until I felt the time was right, I moved on to the Chalice Well herself. I was able to sit with the Vesica Piscis facing me and under another yew. I just sat and listened. The birds sang and I heard sheep bleating.

The Well gave me one message: I am a Well of Wisdom, who partakes of my gifts receives my blessing. For you it is the Awen who flows from my depths. This is a source place for you and so you must come here often. I am for you the Mother of Awen.

What can I say to that?

Except to express my gratitude by honing my gifts and strengthening my creative skills. Write poems. Write stories. And, write more. Learn the art of linocut, become a more proficient calligrapher and accomplished photographer. In all things be humble and live in a state of grateful awareness.

Winter’s Cold

Winter’s cold weaves
expanding icy lace
barely visible, upon
dark needled yew,
bare branched ash,
berried brazen holly,
spreading fernish tendrils
patterning across surfaces,
setting miniscule shards
of crystal standing upon
leaves alive and dead,
making no discernible distinction.

Winter’s cold rests
in places saturated by preferences
eons old and untamed still,
raises misty on the rimes
bounding fields again water swollen
too sodden for any but the swans,
when night-water standing shallow
transubstantiates to ice
slippery and shining
seen in unexpected beauty
on the dawning of the day.

Winter’s cold steals
upon and over roads and pathways,
undetectable until too late,
ice black as night
as dangerous as
frozen projectiles thrown
by no hand seen by human eyes,
plummeting,
from eaves and rooftops
crashing to break the quiet
impaling the unwary.

And now Winter’s cold
drapes shoulders undetected
and gloves fingers invisibly,
it can steal into the Self,
it can freeze the soul
with discontent,
it can freeze the heart
with regret,
it can freeze the mind
with memories,
if one be not careful
it can reach out grabbing
the joy, the hope, the wonder
from the season’s bright festivities.

Be wary then and watchful,
though most of all,
be bold with wonder,
be extravagant with joy,
be generous with love,
be not afraid,
embrace with delight Winter’s gifts,
short lived each year,
filled with immense mystery
and the deepest magic.