‘Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children.’ T S Eliot, The Four Quartets
June, & at the solstice
The sky’s blue iris widens—wing-wrapped, leaf-lapped—
Drawing out from the apple of midsummer’s eye.
In the crab-tree, a collared dove croons & clamours;
A ruffled wood pigeon clatters away
Scattering breaths of fluff & feathers
While, higher still & higher over all,
Far above the heat-prostrated fields & trees,
Buzzards rise & ride the thermals,
Their screeches borne on the breeze:
As distant & despairing as the prey they hunt below.
Beside the water—coiled, oiled—a grass snake
Basks & smoulders in the tangled weeds,
Olive brown & waiting, waiting…
And so the world turns on its wicked way:
the way of speaking, or of silent breathing;
the way of seeing, or concealing;
the way of feasting, or of being eaten.
Slick, its little, beady eyes
Like pools of bottomless darkness,
The grass snake flinches,
Twitches, flicks away.
In the green & glossy holly hedge,
Sky-blue eyes open wide in infant innocence,
Blink, wink, spark, laugh,
And—here and there among them—roses drop
Rubies on the holly’s shine.
Oh, we cannot count the blue-eyed children chuckling,
Giggling, rippling through the prickling foliage
On sinuous, twirling bines & twines!
© Lizzie Ballagher, 2014