The Sacred Presence

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For Felicity Walker

*

This morning, at the altar rail, I kneel

Beside a woman called Felicity

As delicate as china roses, frail

Much closer to the mystic veil than me

And as the priest approaches with the host

A ray of sun comes sudden from the east

Lord, let it shine on her, who needs it most

And waste it not on me, who needs it least

And so it comes, in blazing gold and white

Infusing her with glory as she prays

Behold, she is an angel full of light

Enfolded in the wonder of his ways

There at the altar with Felicity

I feel the sacred presence next to me

*

© Gail Foster 14th May 2017

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The Light Is Not A Solemn Thing, It Shines

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for Sarah

*

The light is not a solemn thing, it shines

With merry glee and mirthful gentleness

Will not be held a hostage, in confines

Of darkened halls where little ones confess

The sins of fathers that they never chose

Nor be a slave to chapter, scripture, verse

Be boundaried, or fettered in its flows

It is the joy of blessing, not a curse

It isn’t how you said it was.  You lied

I ran, and left your lies behind the door

And here I am, and oh, the light is wide

Mysterious, and infinite, and more

A wildly wilful, free, and feisty thing

I wear a ribbon in my hair, and sing

*

© Gail Foster 26th February 2017

This sonnet was written for my friend Sarah, who left the Plymouth Brethren.  In accordance with the Brethren’s belief in the Doctrine of Separation, those who have left are no longer allowed contact with their friends or families.  In recent years former members have developed the custom of writing their loved ones’ names on yellow ribbons as a symbol of love and remembrance.

The Sacrifice of Song

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The Choir of St. John the Baptist, Devizes

sing Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral

4th January 2017

*

The Temple of St. Paul’s, at Evensong;

The voices of our little children ring

In tones divine, as through the ages long

Our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters sing

How lofty, lowly, wide, and deep, and high

The mystery, the magnitude, the sound

How thunderous, the whispered gilded sigh

Of doves that fall from dome to holy ground

On altar bright; what sacrifice is this

This mass of light, this sungen density

This quantum quality, this ancient bliss

That renders speechless such a man as me

I fall upon my knees upon the floor

Sing, children, songs as these, for evermore

*

© Gail Foster 6th January 2017

My Muse Looks Like Morrissey

For Steve Doolan

*

The mysteries of muses lie within the hands of fate

Your muse may be your lover, or your muse may be your mate

The stranger on the corner, or the friend you used to know

The somebody you’ve never met who makes your juices flow

The one who sang the joyful song that set your heart alight

The one who wrote the rhyme that left you crying in the night

The ways of love and poetry defy all sense and reason

But every rhyme will have its day, and every love its season

The comedies of muses tickle mischief from the pen

Therefore the fates have given me a wonder amongst men

A muse who looks like Morrissey.  It’s true, I kid you not

I only chucked a line or two and this is what I got

Apparently it’s good for when one’s pulling on the lash

Or busking on the corner when one’s rather short of cash

I’m confused, and yet besotted, I am this, and I am that

Anyone but Morrissey.  I just can’t stand the twat

The irony’s amusing, though, I’m moved to write a rhyme

The difference between the two is really quite sublime

One will make you slit your wrists or have a little cry

The other stir your ass upon the dance floor till you die

One drones on and on and makes a proper old palava

The other shows, not tells, a bit more like your Raymond Carver

One is needy, wan, and wafty, like a pampas in the yard

The other, slightly weedy, yes, but dare I say it…hard

Oh, the mysteries of muses are a monster to define

I’ve ended up with one that looks like Morrissey as mine

For a moment, or a season, none may know or yet can say

But I shall take his inspiration, for a year or a day

And his rampant positivity and witty observations

On the ins and outs of Haworth, Keighley, and the other nations

For the bugger has me heart aflame and all me neurons fired

Sigh.  He looks like Morrissey.

He’s hired.

 *

© Gail Foster November 12th 2016

If the reader is unfamiliar with the work of Morrissey

or is simply up for a good laugh

just check out the music video ‘November Spawned A Monster’…

The Mystery of Love; for Olly Michael Lancaster

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I wrote this poem for my friend Mike Hopkinson’s little grandson Olly,

who will be three at the end of August

*

I am Olly Michael Lancaster, a special little lad

I love my brother Ryan, and I love my Mum and Dad

I love my funny Grandad, and I love my Nanna Sue

And we all love each other, like all happy families do

I like a little tickle, and a cuddle, and a rub

I like the feel of water when I’m floating in the tub

I like to giggle in the car when Grandad’s house is near

And I like it when you brush my face, and when you stroke my ear

I know you by your kindness, and I know you by your smell

I know you when you’re far away, and when you’re near as well

I know you by the way your pattern weaves within my heart

And I know that we are children who can only know in part

Oh, show me all the colours of the earth and sea and sky

Show me bright and pretty lights, and all the birds that fly

Show me shining mirrors that reflect my smiling face

And I shall show a mystery, and you shall see my grace

Oh, tell me tales of happiness, and joy, and fairy lands

Tell me funny nursery rhymes, and hold my little hands

Tell me all the stories that your Mum and Granny heard

And tell me all the wisdom of the world within a word

Oh, teach me about flowers, about butterflies, and bees

Teach me how the blossoms change to fruit upon the trees

Teach me of the moon and stars that twinkle high above

And I shall teach you with my life the secret lore of love

For I am yours, and you are mine, and all of us are one

I am the light in darkness and the shadow of the sun

I come to show and tell and teach the truth the ancients knew

I am Olly Michael Lancaster, and I love you

*

© Gail Foster 2016

Smoke And Roses Blow

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A Villanelle

*

Beyond the veil where daylight fears to go

Behind a swathe of heavy silken mist

The heady scents of smoke and roses blow

Along the paths that secret lovers know

Are wood and blossom tangled in a tryst

Beyond the veil where daylight fears to go

Within the subtle stream’s beribboned flow

Whirl pools of love and darkness in a twist

The heady scents of smoke and roses blow

The sun sinks in to shadow smooth and slow

Through willing earth too wanton to resist

Beyond the veil where daylight fears to go

On perfumed air a drum beat, soft and low

In perfect time without a rhythm missed

The heady scents of smoke and roses blow

The wild in love the sacred orchards know

Who go to be by passion’s madness kissed

Beyond the veil where daylight fears to go

The heady scents of smoke and roses blow

*

© Gail Foster 2016