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

Grief and Hope

So many people face bereavement at this time of year, and in the past few months three friends or close family members of friends have died. Remembering them, both in giving thanks for their lives (two short and the other long), I am today sharing a poem I wrote two years ago. Perhaps this poem comforts only me; but so many light candles to reflect and remember, all over the world, that I hope this poem reaches out to others, as well.

Seven Candles

Light me a candle for sorrow:
For the one on a journey with no returning
And pennies on his eyes for the burying.

Light me a candle for tomorrow:
For the tug of longing & the loss of hope,
For the winds of war & the stuttering of prayer.

Light me a candle for blissful memories
In the darkest hours of night:
For sunlit colours & the laughter of friends.

Light me a candle for thankfulness:
For the holy moments of marrying,
For childbirth & the first faltering prayers of children.

Light me a candle for blessedness:
For bread & wine on a sacred table—
To stand & burn in beauty & in tenderness.

Light me a candle for gladness:
For a welcome at windows late in the evening,
For the hush & stillness of soft sleep.

Light me a candle for peace:
For the swansdown drift of dreams;
For the gift of Christ at Christmas,
And for His rising on Easter’s radiant morning.
Yes, light me a candle for the breath of day’s dawning.

The hiss of a flame, the flare of a spark
Will raise us soon against the dark.

Words and image © Lizzie Ballagher

 

November: a time to reflect, a time to remember

Seven Candles

Light me a candle for sorrow:

For the one on a journey with no returning

And pennies on his eyes for the burying.

 

Light me a candle for tomorrow:

For the tug of longing & the loss of hope,

For the winds of war & the stuttering of prayer.

 

Light me a candle for blissful memories

In the darkest hours of night:

For sunlit colours & the laughter of friends.

 

Light me a candle for thankfulness:

For the holy moments of marrying,

For childbirth & the first faltering prayers of children.

 

Light me a candle for blessedness:

For bread & wine on a sacred table—

To stand & burn in beauty & in tenderness.

 

Light me a candle for gladness:

For a welcome at windows late in the evening,

For the hush & stillness of soft sleep.

 

Light me a candle for peace:

For the swansdown drift of dreams;

For the gift of Christ at Christmas,

And for His rising on Easter’s radiant morning.

Yes, light me a candle for the breath of day’s dawning.

 

The hiss of a flame, the flare of a spark

Will raise us soon against the dark.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher – words and image

img_6431

 

Sad Piano

For me there’s something poignant about a piano put out for removal by the local waste collection service. How many songs have been played on that old piano? Dances danced? Shows accompanied? Romances begun? A piano’s wood and metal structure is surely more than the sum of its parts. This little poem, a haiku, celebrates and mourns the piano you see in the photograph.

put out with rubbish

abandoned to sun, rain, I

play only sorrow

img_6142

 

Shadow Dancers

In this final post on dancing, I imagine someone I once knew who played the piano for ballet dancers: someone who never drew attention to himself – just played.

Shadow Dancers

High summer’s light—June light—and curtains
At French windows shift in air invisible.
Fiercely frowning, alone, an old man bows to the piano keys.
His fingers flash & fly, strike black & white alike.
Behind him, he hears pale dancers
Who are not there,
Who might return (or not),
Who once were here (but now are not)—

Hears them slip, skip, step to his fingers’ lift & lilt;
Hears at the shining grand-piano keyboard
The schuss, the brush, the hush of silken shoes
On polished gold-grained floorboards
As his hands follow & give chase:
Shadow & reach
Echo & overlap
Criss-cross & race.

His fingers stretch & span the keys
While dancers spin & leap the fifths & octaves.
Around him, around the ones who are not there,
Mirrors gleam back lightness of steps; glass
Beams back the dazzle of brilliant notes:
Waiting for the beat,
Syncopating feet
All resonating.

In the dancing room,
Echoing the poise, the pose, the pause
Of pallid dancers in an empty place
With drifting translucent curtains,
Echoing the peace of dancers in a bleached, bare, beech-wood space
Of bright piano keys,
Of mirrors floor to ceiling height,
Of white light full of angles, reflections, refractions—

The music cascades, fades in a dying fall.
See! The player at the grand piano turns, quite spent.
Pale dancers in his head, his ears,
Have also turned; not one of them remains:
Just soundless music in his hands, his mind.
Somewhere, something (he cannot say) aches today.
Some kind of loss (o! strike white! strike black!) breaks grey in him.
Then something takes his breath away.

© Lizzie Ballagher

2015-07-17 13.05.412015-07-16 10.12.30

With thanks to the managers and staff at Dance Junction in Rochester, Kent, UK.

 

 

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