Notes spilling

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The Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč, Croatia

Oh, the disappointment that comes upon a happy wanderer when awoken from a dream! She was there, so vividly, where house martins had added mud nests and their carefree joy to the aged splendour of coffee coloured stucco, beneath the solemn tolling of the Euphrasian Basilica’s bells, and the notes of choir practice spilling over the polished cobbled paving beneath the Sacristy window.

She saw and heard the returning of the colourful fishing boats and the ancient, creaking shutters bleached silver, dishevelled on rusty hinges, rendering their seeming-permanence miraculous.

And – just as it had been since 1951 – the battered blue bicycle leant against the wall, no longer going places, basket now bright with garden flowers, energetic pedalling having given way years ago to sunlit evenings making embroidered shawls on the doorstep, geraniums glowing as buttercups might at her chin, beneath a deeply wrinkled concentration.

Clear too in this reverie was the small glass of something or other beside a basket of chocolate brown bread and olive oil on the little outdoor table, and needles in the orange pin cushion. Yes: in tonight’s gentle evening breeze this quiet, embroidering, sometime cyclist was recognised again as mistress of her universe.

But the heat? 32 degrees, perhaps. One didn’t feel heat like this in dreams. Heavens – and she meant ‘thank heavens’ – this was no dream! Wide awake, our chief travel writer Becky Buckley was actually, here and now, standing right in front of her old Croatian friend – who, in familiar broken-English, looked up from her craft-work and called to Becky – as she may to you – ‘welcome back to Poreč.’

Simon Marsh

On the road

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photo at pixabay

How now brown cow newly
before me on the brow of
the hill

For a moment your great
sandy head was that of a
watchful lioness and awed
at forty-five miles an hour
I was suddenly driving red
dust tracks in Africa

Until snapped back to the
morning’s reality on the road
to Mungrisdale

Aye. Red dust gave way
to grey tarmac. Cumberland
bloomed. This was not tundra

For a moment my own great
sandy head is mildly
embarrassed by the watchful
vividness of my colourful
imagination and I concentrate
brake, slow, park, going

And then I find myself again
in a wondrous seat of art and heart
shared creativity and growing

Marvellous. Graced. Extra-ordinary –
a pride of lions and lionesses in a
little village hall. We write 
meditate, laugh, cry, articulate
enumerate – watchful eyes and ears
on the brow of many a glorious hill

and – exactly where we’re
meant to be – thee and me
quiet and still

Simon Marsh

At the church door

 

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photo at pixabay

(where no one draws breath, and you’ll have heard it all before)

Guess what Norah? there’s going to be
meringue! – ‘a nest of strawberries and
blueberries, raspberries, and rhubarb
coulis.’ Aw thump! Grandpa’s ratted and
Mam’s anxious and Granny’s weather-worn.
God, it’s hot isn’t it? Our Paula’s
nice fascinator’s wilting. Not my
choice of flowers! Who is going to
sweep up all that confetti? Verger
prefers white rice for a white wedding
‘e says. Confetti’s as daft as top
hat and tails when us lot are out in
us t-shirts and jeans, normal. Like them
bridesmaids on the hen night full of beans
and planning a dead rude speech to make
all them others screech. And now the Best
Man’s sweating. He’ll faint in a mo’ what’s
the betting? But his partner’s brought him
posh mineral water and the guy
with the camera says ‘stand in t’ shade’
which won’t make for good photos here or
at the Reception. Got any coins
for the collection? No, love. I’m broke
Hope it’ll be the old vows. We was
at the Methodist’s last weekend and
their vicar can’t half shift the trifle
Aaaaah ha ha! You know, like, worra mean?
You mean ‘obey’ and all that in them
old vows? Well, you know what? You can get
stuffed! Ey up, ‘ere come the eyelashes

Simon Marsh

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Walking with Haiku

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i

wide eyed owl sits light
on an ancient platform of
oak and sometimes hoots

ii

foal looks into the
blind eye of an old mare and
thereby knows her depths

iii

blackbird sings for to
call his love who will bring to
birth his future songs

iv

bluebells about the
skirt of the hill invite quiet
delight and picnic

v

dappled sunlight golden
gladdens the heart of one who
came to it downcast

vi

forget-me-not’s call
to minds fractured by life’s cares
is soul’s light within

vii

silk eared labrador
bounds ahead as though present
she already lives there

viii

haughty cat sits on
warmed stone garden wall and is
secretly smiling

ix

timid orb eyed – tail
quivering beneath beech leaves
slowly awakening

x

man beckoned forth to
nature encounters deep joy
amongst earth’s glories

Simon Marsh

Cave painting

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Rembrandt | The Artist in His Studio

Cave painter

in his studio
his eyes
are black

self portrait
requires
hand on

balanced
brush or
dust for

blowing
and an
inward

turned eye
the depth
of parietal

art’s mirror
to espy and
translate

to white
canvas
or cave

wall to
speak of
community’s

necessity
without
which there

is no
life or
growing

neurological
pathfinding
at all

in his studio
Rembrandt’s
eyes are

black as
also the
cave painter’s

forty
thousand
long years

before his
yet no
insight

do they
then or
today

our own
inward
eyes seeing

to the
back of
our soul’s

deep caves
ever
lack

Simon Marsh

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Illumination

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hans christian andersen

Green velvet smoking jacket
svelte and warm and treasured
since Cambridge
the pool of light that quickened
the grain in his oak desk was
as much a portal for him
into other worlds as was the
oak door through which he entered
his library at every
opportunity

Sometimes the desk supported
the console of a racing carriage and
at others the cockpit of
a spaceship from the pen of
Leonardo da Vinci and
at others still the pool of light
upon the desk resembled that upon
the spectacles of a tiny Rumpelstiltskin
or the chestnut hair of Lydia
the one and only he’d ever
truly adored

And his pen added a carrot-nose
to a snowman fashioned
by his father and the slowing
pace of his seventy-five year
old legs was rejuvenated as
his pen pointed brighter than
candle flame into the
archives of an always fertile mind

His eyes could appear as blank
black discs in a handsome patrician visage
when observed at the desk from
eventide street window but
only because there they gazed
inward, remembering, rejoicing
resurrecting realities borne of
fairy tales of wingéd truth

Simon Marsh

T-u-r-q-u-o-i-s-e

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Photo at Pixabay

First word she’d scratched on slate. Shaping her days and dreams, she loved sound, colour and stone better than her name. ‘Yes love – our Cornish sea be turquoise.’

Daddy held Anna’s hand tightly on clifftop walks. Her enthusiasm made her careless, he said. ‘So does yours,’ she told him, at his funeral, on her fifth birthday. ‘You an’ Sharkey an’ your stupid fishin’ in the turquoise in the storm.’

Years later, Sharkey’s lad proposed. ‘Nah,’ she said. But then she saw his ring.

T-u-r-q-u-o …

Simon Marsh

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