Leaving Home

IMG_0022Morning moves like a lover:
Slow, and arching over.

Day comes grey as a dovewing,
Patient and soft as the breast
Of a thrush on its nest—
The beating down of birdwing.

No moon, no stars, no bite
Of winter yet in paling light,
But no, no mercy either
In this eastern earliness.

Now you breathe the rhythm of my dawn,
Skin damp on mine; close, warm;
But far away from us
A cold bird summons, calls,

And the veiled air curls,
White, already autumn chilled:
Deep clouds dip down, hang fullness.
The loud cock crows, cracks stillness.

Wet grasses rise to my face’s hollows;
Willow and elder stand beaded and bowed,
Damsoned and drooping
As I must leave you sleeping.

How morning breaks
My heart!

© Lizzie Ballagher


A new tree poem for you

2014-07-13 11.14.35Lothlόrien Revisited

“The boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden…and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey.”
J R R Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Bk II, 6

Unless the star-struck moon rising between glinting trees
Has made me mad, I think the birch & linden woods are full
Of whisperings as much as moonlight.
So, maybe, if we walk out here tonight,
We’ll see elves slender as the silver trunks,
Wistful for the world we lost—oh—long ago
When we chose to peel & carve & chop away
The papery bark of Yggdrasil, the world’s great Tree;
To split earth’s spangled rings of quartz, feldspar & silica.

In the sweep of curving blackened twigs,
In the weep of sprigs still wintry dark,
In the burned-out candle-sparks of last year’s catkins,
Quick, pencilled lines define themselves.
The golden lime & silver birch-trees quiver, shiver, shimmer
Until we listen to the murmur of an ancient mystery;
Quake, shake, coruscate
Until we hear the brittle singing voices
Of the glittering sylvan folk.

Pearl bark curls back, unfurls, cracks.
Ink-etched, frosted, black, bleached,
Trees stretch & taper, elongate, all dancing grace.
From saffron & cinnamon dust the night woods wake.

© Lizzie Ballagher


Woods in Tapestry – encouraging news

The poem below, written in 1993, has been chosen for its autumn showcase by Poetry Space. Click on the link below to read this and other autumn poems.

You taste the burning of sienna oaks,
The searing smoke of red-hot sumac leaves,
The sweet-and-sour, sharp-tongued chestnuts;
Saffron sycamores,
Turmeric trees
All spiced and smudging into autumn.
Today you taste the full earth dwindling down.

You hear the ringing of a million coins,
Shaking and spendthrift on a silver tree,
And the low weep of yellow-livered willows;
The march of mosses,
The slow seep of water through the stones
All soft and sifting into autumn.
Today you hear the rich earth dropping down.

You see the mass of layering cloud wads,
The turreting flock and fleece of them,
And the banked up brass of fearsome marigolds;
At the back-hand slap,
The black-edged snap of frost
All cruel and cutting into autumn,
Today you see the bright earth darkening down.

© Lizzie Ballagher