Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Another Illustrated Poem

This is the church where I used to be vicar- with the field in front of it where my children used to play. The poem is addressed to my daughter, but is really all about me, me, me.

It's another poem I'd want to put in quotation marks. It was true ten or fifteen years ago, but I no longer fully identify with the self who's voicing it. Even so, it remains one of my favourites.

                                    ALICE, ABOUT YOUR FIELD


                                    That field you wrote the poem about,

                                    It never meant that much to me.

                                    Suburban gardens bordered it,

                                    Their honeysuckle scented it;

                                    Liminal space, dog walking space

                                    And owned by-

                                                            Well, you tell me whom,

                                    What demons and desirables

                                    You dreamed for it.  It wasn't safe,

                                    Not with the mounds of rubble and

                                    The broken ground with holes in it,

                                    But safe enough for parents who

                                    Permitted you the run of it

                                    Long evening hours.


                                                                        The spirit grows

                                    Because of risk and needs a place

                                    To prove itself, between the worlds,

                                    Half real and half imaginary.


                                    For me there was a wooded hill.

                                    Our house sat at the foot of it.

                                    I never ventured there alone.

                                    Its trees were taller than seemed right

                                    And in its shadow weirdness lived.

                                    I and my girlfriend stripped and pissed

                                    Into the mulch and beech mast there

                                    When I was four.


                                                            And ever since

                                    The haunters of that nemeton

                                    Have dodged around me. Happiness

                                    Has been to do with shaking leaves

                                    And footpaths snaking off through trees

                                    And so has fear...


                                                                        So do you find

                                    Your life as open to the sky

                                    As mine is shaded by a wood?

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