Grey Heron

Images (c) RSPB

For the first time this year, I saw a huge heron fly over today. Usually I see them hunched by the river or beside a lake. Their watchful stillness is eerie, almost as if they’re not quite a part of this world.

Old Heron

Hunched, still as a wily snake,
You wait below the willow on the shallow bank.
Although alone, you’re doubled
At the water’s edge by your shadow self,
By that ageless grey bird, who, unstirring,
As stoic as you on stilted legs,
Stands just as hunched.

Tireless, you wait & watch
With prehistoric reptilian eyes
For hapless frogs & fish—whatever swims your way—
Since you’re not choosy
But endlessly patient,
Missing not the smallest ripple
And, like running water, tireless.

How ragged you are, old heron!
You’ve stood on the brink so long
That the weeping willow’s turned
From green to grey, from yellow back to green again
While you’re still biding your time, lurking,
Ruffled, muffled in your shaggy cloak
And—like a leafless willow branch—how ragged.

Words © Lizzie Ballagher

Advertisements

February

Yes, February may be viewed as the start of spring in some cultures. And, yes, I am writing this post as snow blows in over the North Downs on a below-zero wind. Still, the thought of warmer days and brighter light keeps the winter blues at bay, even so long before the changing of the clocks. Hence this little poem.

Lemon Light                                                           

Day comes up full of willow buds

Yellow as yellowhammers

And dusts the path with daffodils,

With flaring saffron crocuses.

 

Between long cirrus clouds, citrus light shakes out

The splash & flash of goldfinch wings.

 

An early brimstone butterfly ascends

Creamy yellow on skeins of invisible updraft:

Away, it lifts away, drifts away

Over banks brimming with primroses.

 

And now on the morning of the springing clocks,

Here in this first week of a northern spring,

 

The flame has turned,

Sun’s fire has burned

From winter’s crimson plum

To spring’s bright lemon light.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher

Reflecting and Remembering

     Lest we forget, living in the relative peace of Western Europe, just what war can do, November serves as a month for reflecting on the consequences of war and the sufferings of those who still endure it now, in 2017.

My poem “Merciless Day” was last year set to music by composer Simon Mold. If you would like to hear the music and poem, please follow this youtube link.

Houston Poetry Fest 2017

After 32 years America’s oldest poetry festival, the Houston Poetry Fest is over now for another year; but the ripples go out across the world for a few happy writers and (we hope) for many readers of poetry.

Today I received in the mail a copy of the 2017 festival’s Anthology. It features writers well-known in the US but also, among them, others (like me) scarcely known at all.  My poem “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” is featured in this collection.

You can read the poem elsewhere on this blog in the post “Inspired by Art”, or why not order your own copy of the Anthology from Houston Poetry Fest, Anthology Orders, P.O. Box 22595, HOUSTON, Texas 77227-2595.

 

At the Turn of the Clock

Many countries in the northern hemisphere alter their clocks this weekend. While our cousins in Australasia, southern Asia and South America look forward to spring, we in the north know only too well what lies ahead. Time for another new haiku for you…

breathing nostalgia

we feel the year’s great wheel turn—

smell winter’s bonfire

Words & images © Lizzie Ballagher

Words & images © Lizzie Ballagher