First day back

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin

Commitments, illness and a general feeling of ennui have left this blog gathering dust since long before Christmas. My camera sulks in a bottom drawer, poetry is paucity, and another bout of lockdown has me hibernating. But Larkin is spot on: ‘where can we live but days‘? And the sun summoned my cabin-fevered body forth for a local walkabout – seeing beauty even in the least of picturesque landscapes of puddled muddy fields under a bright sky.

A different Ending

The word was spread in whispers
the way flakes of snow fall
into silence. Some had already
read the exit signs
making their way to the pines.
I only saw a forest, swaying, waving
a dark green tunnel
leading from our door.

So many of us had gone already
our dear departed ones
massed in graves, in ghetto gatherings.
My fate was theirs, waiting on the threshold
waiting for collection.

My son took me. Hand in hand
by night we left, vanished into timberland.
Such a mismatched pair of fugitives.
He hurrying on as though summoned
by G-d and though the hounds of hell
might snap my heels, the need to rest
was strong. And there I forced our parting
cutting again the umbilical chord.
He drifted away like a balloon.

All the trees were witnessing.
They moved in closer still. Mists snagged
in swags on outstretched limbs, framing sanctuary.
Hunger that had gnawed like ravaged rats
guts that churned concerns
even the shivering bones
were vanquished.

Snow soft hair in a frosted bed. Falling fast
the flurries dripped from face and hands
all the age-etched years erased.
I heard seabirds flying here from Riga
where the Great Choral synagogue
sang at the mouth of the river.

Solidarity in the Forest - The Bielski Partisans 
The Great Choral Synagogue memorial

A picture prompt that invoked a true but not isolated story of an aged mother who urged her son to leave her in a Belarusian forest as he went on to join the Jewish partisans there: The Sunday Muse #138


My heart was split, and a flower appeared

Odes of Solomon

Isn’t that where it all began? In a garden
wide-eyed wonderment
arms open to the wind

I recall how faith fell
easily as rain, petalled confetti
mounding beneath the cherry tree

I remember whispered prayers, instances
of incense when eager, hymnal voices
tipped the clouds

I memorized Magnificats and eulogies
words of awe and majesty that moved
my mouth to tears

I treasured nature as my icons
eggs that clutched, butterfly grace
feathers, newts, each and every bud

I mind most this devilish disabusing
how hankering never does coax heaven
into the expectant, outstretched hand

Aren’t fabulous flowers appearing still,
before the heart’s agape and gazing sacredly?
brief blooms, mercurial as memories of me

For my Poetics challenge we turn away from worldly matters towards the spiritual, employing one of the 8 given fragments from the mystic poets as prompt Stepping Off the Sidewalk