Gordon Walmsley

Poem in August

A concrete block heaving landwards
out of the sand
across the memories
of three generations:
a hole where a gun used to be.
Human sounds, dog sounds
wind and gleaming residue of the sea,
multifarious bird sounds
and the silences
that pass by each year.

What we call time
wears down or enables.
You treat this abandoned gun emplacement
as a sculpture, and thus walk around it,
noting the sprayed letters
that signify an ecstatic
I AM HERE. Further along,
there is the face of a young girl
holding flowers,
her hair slightly torn,
as paper defines the wind.
Above us
clouds bulge forth a rolling darkness,
a cascading light,
and birds lift you high
into the storm.

I see this as a drama,
I have said it before,
not merely as a portent
of wars to come.
If you think about it
what we call weather
may be the consequence of human thoughts,
not just the mixing of chemicals,
as the materialists would have it.
You glimpse the sun and feel a breeze that does not flail you
you learn again and again
about the wisdom of a heart
greater than your own.

Yes, I see dark years coming.
Yes, I remember
the terrible inventiveness
of human cruelty.
And no, I don't think
it can be avoided.
But I believe in the power
of human thinking no tyrant
can contain, and I allow myself to imagine
a light palomino's stride among the low waves,
the sky tumbling above me,
and when I glance back
it is to see the girl's hair blowing.

Poem copyright © Gordon Walmsley.