Bees in Lavender

Words and images © Lizzie Ballagher

Bees in Lavender

stems sea-green or silver-green are spiked
with royalty
oozing an oil that draws the fire
of bees:
flare of smoked-glass wings dusted with pollen,
prickle of honeyed buzzing—
so quick—
furred in dark bands
sun bands
they move unceasingly
to light’s choreography
in lazy heat

their glossy velvet flickers lightning
and their hum
in the lavender
is thunder

© Lizzie Ballagher

New Poem on Nine Muses Poetry

It’s lovely to be able to commend a fellow blogger, Annest Gwilym to those who follow posts on this website; her site is called Nine Muses Poetry. Recently Annest has featured a new poem of mine on this site, which I’m pleased to share here: “Ophelia in Mourning at Evening”.

Please enjoy this poem, below; or click the links above to discover this and many other poems on Nine Muses Poetry.

Ophelia in Mourning at Evening

 

Summer seeps away

in a barely moving brook.

 

Last leaves fall from desolate birch:

those trunks that draw black inks

through the glassy water,

through branchy weeds: runes

signifying autumn’s melancholy

under a sky paling to nightfall.

 

And not even a twilight-blue wrap

or the gossamer threads

of a needless bridal gown—

now dappled, dank with dew

in evening’s grass—could keep out

sorrow’s cold.

 

She will go cloak herself, instead,

in widow’s weeds.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher

Felled Pine

Felled Pine:   

this morning when they came

with bowsaws

and that grinding whine

had its beginning

worse than wolves baying over a carcass

in the wilderness

 

you sent up your thin protest

of pine scent:

 

sap rising for spring…

but the well

of fresh-mint pine

green turpentine

will pump now

no more fragrance

 

all the air filled

with your leaking, seeping…

with the ugly thump & clunk

of log-chunks

as they hit the metal flat-bed

of the truck…

 

neighbours gazed on new sky

but my ears heard strange roots grieving—

my eyes saw noonday sun

strike dangerous blows

on shrivelling ground

where hot light probed & stabbed…

 

you were a pine tree

that tendered bark to beetles,

sanctuary to collared doves,

where finches pulled at ranks

of seeded cones

finding their food…

 

also you gave soft footfalls,

perfume, to my childhood—

the cool of northern woods—

but when afternoon’s breeze

blows up today it will carry

only my raging, outraged tears…

 

the seething needles’ sweetness will have gone:

not even that faint lament of pine scent…

Words and images © Lizzie Ballagher

Water Lane, Guernsey

Water lanes as sources of pure running water saved lives during the plague years in England, and in many older settlements they can still be identified by that very name. We found one such in Guernsey ten years ago, its banks flooded by wild passionflowers. From that modest pathway winding down Guernsey hills to the sea sprang this brief poem.

Water Lane, Guernsey

Dabbling, scrabbling in sand & shards of quartz,
paired green mallards turn pebbles for morsels,
wade rock-pools, then climb the channel flowing clear
down Water Lane, where springs run soundlessly
from hills beyond.

Overhead, holm oaks seethe
in a breeze that smacks of salty seaweed.
Here, around our feet, passionflower chains
bind us together—forever ascending
Water Lane: a paradise prickling with bees—
all under that honeyed island sun.

Words and images © Lizzie Ballagher

 

Boston’s Freedom Trail

Even I Revere the Freedom Trail          

Here I am on the eve of July Fourth—

Yes, that Stars & Stripes Forever day—

But the irony’s not lost on me:

A Brit walking Boston’s Freedom Trail.

Thinly the path of red bricks going two by two

Like a column of starved colonial infantrymen

 

Frog-marches me past churches & graveyards

Where men fought & died—from the gold-leaf dome,

Past that bronze beast bearing Revere, the coppersmith

Riding to warn when two lanterns swung high,

Swung high in the loft of Old North Church,

That our Georgian forebears were coming—

 

Marches me past cold-hearted cobbles

Commemorating the massacre of foolhardy youth,

To the Revere-plated hulk rebelliously hunched

In dry dock, the one they named ‘Ironsides’

When shocked British cannonballs

Bounced back, bounced back off the metal hull—

 

Ensnares me, tugs me

All the city miles it snakes its way,

Makes its way—although, whisper it,

I am shamed by ugly history…

However, still I bounce back,

Bounce back through time’s twisting mystery

 

And I’m a mother now to young Americans—

More: a grandmother, too. My line

Of British sight, of independent British fight

Streaks up with a flare of firework sparks

Bursting in free American air in stripes & stars

Over the city the following night.

 

My life, my line, my freedom staked upon it,

Here: I sign my John Hancock.

A Beautiful Place

Have you ever felt a sense of belonging or some kind of inexplicable connection with a certain place? One such, for me, is a wooded hill on Kent’s long greensand ridge. Unassuming by comparison with its oft-feted neighbour Ightham Mote (National Trust), Wilmot Hill offers long views across the blue hills and wide fields of the Weald. And more besides, as I hope this poem illustrates.

“On Wilmot Hill” has recently appeared in the magazine South-East Walker, but I thought I’d share it here to an even wider readership.

On Wilmot Hill

And if you turn aside
from the greensand path
to ascend the wooden stair
in the south slope of the hill,
you will come to an old way,
an older way
running high
on the ridge:
between toppling yews
planted before history by birds & beasts;
between beeches threading the sky with branches,
stitching the greensand banks
with roots that cling,
drive deep down underfoot—

while all the way to the south lie
the plains & blue foothills
of the ancient weald:
away & away for ever to the sea.

In secret folds, in the lee of this hill
where springs run out, grow
primeval marestails greener than greensand,
violets, primroses & spotted orchids.

A blackbird will be singing
just for you
somewhere in the yew fronds;
clouds will drop their mercy on the beech leaves.

Ahead of you
the path will dwindle
to a white-light vanishing point
at its downward curve.

Words and image © Lizzie Ballagher