Blossom Rising

On the deaths of Major John Cairns Bartholomew, of Wadworthshire,

and a much loved Devizes tree…

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Beneath a grey and monumental sky

In wild confetti clouds that dance in air

The blossom falls, all trees and men will die

However good, or beautiful, or rare

For years beneath the branches of that tree

Have lovers kissed and lonely mourners waited

All men and trees shall die, he, thee, and me

By that same force destroyed and yet created

The clattering of horses’ hooves, the sound

Of yeoman passing, ghosts that haunt the ears

All trees and men be gone into the ground

Till from the light new word of life appears

In red Victorian brick and petal glow

Are strength and beauty blended for our eyes

Good men and trees in season come and go

Such knowledge is the glory of the wise

Drink with your eyes each bright delight you see

And savour every moment of creation

For man will pass, and wind will fell the tree

And wine will fall on coffins in libation

If blood still flows like sap, then drain your glass

Enjoy the fleeting sunbeam in your ale

All trees and men will die, for all things pass

All moonlight fade, and colours turn to pale

Let hops be gathered, make of sunshine, hay

Add rosebuds, and ferment a heady brew

For trees and men shall certain pass away

As dark of midnight shadows summer’s blue

And soon enough, last orders will be rung

Sad flags will flutter half way up the mast

And dark laments for men and trees be sung

And rest be found for dear old souls at last

Learn wisdom, child, from ale and wood and bone

Brew love in barrels down in cellars deep

And find it there when you return, alone

To watch the man in blossom rise from sleep

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by Gail

Too Late For Words

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Oh, when they were alive we never said

The things we say about them now they’re dead

Too far away now, too far gone to hear

Gone, never to return or reappear

Too late to say how much they meant to us

Just hollow words, and funerals, and fuss

And sorry tears, and memories, and pain

And wishing we could see their face again

That gaze exchanged by eyes when last we met

That lingered a split second, we forget

That precious image, vague, so hard to find

In cupboard corners of unconscious mind

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Why didn’t we just tell them they were great

Too late today, too late now, all too late

We had that thought that day, we didn’t call

What if we never called that much at all

Or when we did, droned on and on and on

No chance to listen now they’re dead and gone

And our last words, a blessing or a curse?

A dirty joke or elevating verse?

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And what if it was bad, so very bad

Unreasonably difficult or sad

Too late to shake hands now, forget, forgive

For they have gone and we have stayed to live

To reconcile our difference alone

With icy wind and cold unyielding stone

With questioning, with anger, fear and prayer

And all the time just wishing they were there

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They change us most, our dearest kith and kin

Lay waste the landscapes that we dwell within

Leave shattered palaces in ruined wake

Leave with that part of us they chose to take

Make waves rise up on ponds in silent glades

Blast particles of light through sunken shades

Part oceans with their leaving, break the sky

Leave fish upon the shore line high and dry

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And even those we never thought we knew

The ones we thought were simply passing through

However long the number of their days

Do change us, in small subtle little ways

Make dust prints on the table in the hall

Leave crumbs on plates, and scuff marks on the wall

Blow gentle breezes soft through window crack

That whisper ‘I am never coming back’

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The more we loved the more we miss, the more

We yearn for some strange loophole in the law

Unwilling to concede the battle lost

To pay for love, and ever count the cost

We search in dream, in lonely mountain walk

For one last touch, for one last quiet talk

And briefly, in the corner of our eye

We see them come, and go, and wave goodbye

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At every funeral we stand and swear

That next time we will say how much we care

Say that we love them, call them on the phone

To let them know that they are not alone

And every time we fail and forget

That well intentioned heartfelt course we set

I loved you, did you know that, tell me true?

Unanswered echoes coming back at you

Dark holes within the soul and endless night

Bright angels lost in distant blinding light

The empty vase, the upturned empty chair

Deep lesions of the heart and songs in air

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by Gail

Feathered Air

If flame there was ‘tis gone, all passion spent

Men long dead or demented tell no lies

No track or trace remains of where they went

Of whether they were wicked or unwise

If scent there was ‘tis blown, in feathered air

Decaying roses, lilies, ashes, mould

Unburied memories of who was there

A whisper on the wind, a rumour told

If blame there was ‘twas ours, for being blind

For keeping silent doubt for all these years

In tangled groves the truth is hard to find

As unmarked mad men’s graves; weep hopeless tears

For smoke there is, all round us like a cloud,

Obscuring the light of fire from the crowd

by Gail