April

23rd April 2017

St George’s Day 

camellia

Camellia from Ann Preston

Three Views of Spring by Ann Preston 

*

three lookout rooks

on three pointed pine trees

*

spiralling sprays of white camellia

crammed into my largest vase

*

a blackbird framed in the doorway

eyeballs me from  the wall

*

16th April 2017

Four Ways to Look at Spring by Susan Jane Sims 

I

Spring’s bloodied lambs

are licked clean

by mothers

who will later cry

for their lost children.

II

Dandelions loll

in long Spring grass;

behind locked doors

blades are sharpened.

III

This Spring’s an interloper

coming much, much too soon.

Before my heart’s repaired.

IV

Instinctive love

builds twig by twig by twig.

File 13-04-2017, 15 29 58

Poem and picture by Susan Jane Sims

 

11th April 2017

Thirteen Ways… from Lesley Saunders

i.

The eyelets of spring are pinched

and metal-rimmed, letting barely anything

through; only this ribbon of spinning light.

ii.

A woman holds her hands a little way apart,

an unfinished space like the wait for the first words

of a new story, like the gap through which a grown man might slip.

iii.

Meanwhile the earth opens – grass

is not what it was, rising again

through the mist, shouldering stones aside

with its shining blades.

iv.

Left over from Christmas a gilt angel –

no bigger than the brazen wasp that butts

itself against a square of solid light – has slid

between the slats of the kitchen table;

glints in the angle of the sun.

(How could she not have noticed?)

v.

Already, grubs of bread-and-milk to feed the gapes

of glistening newborns are squirming

in the hutch of spring – the hopeful word

for which is abdomen or womb.

vi

And suddenly the air is full of fledgling names:

snowdrop, catkin, pussywillow, cowslip;

they are pale and precocious, their burred pollens

catch in her throat.

vii.

Even while they sleep

their pale foreheads nudge away the soil

and they come flailing out of her torn ground

like some wonder-tale, ashy-haired and ancient

as Egypt – these nurslings frail and dangerous as glass.

viii.

She gathers her blue folds round her.

People call it ultramarine because she came all this way

in a sail-less boat, bringing a dish of pomegranates

ix.

though what they notice is the wild inescapable light,

how momentarily it pools in the distance of her eyes, 

trembling there like the frail ice they know themselves made of.

x.

In the walled garden the stations of the spring:

lily-of-the-valley, rose of Sharon, star-of-Bethlehem,

xi.

love-lies-bleeding.

xii.

A broken eggshell empty of everything but light

and birdsong floats away like a shred of sky,

a bright-eyed begging-bowl.

xiii.

And now look how thickly the world closes over

the absences it has created, honeysuckle

poking its quicknesses into these roofless upstairs rooms,

and the carpentry of woodpeckers.

April moon – from Ama Bolton

April moon

8th April 2017

Bewick's blackbird

One Way of Looking At Spring

[inspired by Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens.]

cf.stanza XIII

It was afternoon well into the evening,

The sun’s warmth lingering

As though night would not fall.

A blackbird sang

When I looked up from the washing line.

Verona Bass

Hart's Tongue Fern .jpg

Hart’s Tongue Fern : Mark Haworth-Booth

6th April 2017

Early spring by Mark Haworth-Booth 

I think of Blackthorn blossom as the chief player in the drama of early spring. Compared to Hawthorn, the blossoms are slightly off-white instead of brilliant white. On this bright, slightly chilly day (6 April), Blackthorn is still dominant in our North Devon hedgerows but the Hawthorns are beginning to come into flower. These are the other cast members, roughly in order of appearance: Primroses, Celandine, Stitchwort, Wild Daffodil, Red Campion, Wood Sorrell and Bluebell.

In addition to the flowering plants, the ferns make their entrance. A week or so I noticed how the bracken in our neighbours’ wood is simultaneously sending up new shoots, each with its crozier-shaped top unfurling, and letting the old leaves drop back onto the earth (and thence into it). Yesterday I photographed the same process in the Hart’s Tongue ferns on the banks of our lane: erect new bright-green shoots and prostrate darkening old ones. Dying off takes place as new life busts through.

On a day in late May a few years ago a hailstorm roughed us up in North Devon on its way east to blitz the Chelsea Flower Show. The next morning I walked down the lane to find that all the white Wild Garlic (Ramson) flowers had been torn off the plants and formed a bridal train. I wondered if the flowers were ready to leave the plants, with their work done, or whether the wrenching was premature. We know so much more now about the intelligence of plants, so it seemed possible that the flowers were ready to fall.

In a similar spirit, the beech trees, and beech bushes in hedges, will be shedding their old brown leaves as the new green ones emerge. In this way, the beech is a special shelter tree, keeping the curled brown leaves of autumn in place to mitigate the winter winds, and then the early spring ones, right up until the new leaf generation is ready to take over.  As a parent, I’d like to emulate that – surviving long enough for my daughters to be ready for my departure.