Dandelion Clocks

IMG_5921    Who hasn’t grimaced as the heads of dandelions rear up out of an otherwise healthy garden? There is, however, a part of me that thinks that dandelions have as much right to life as any other flower in the garden, and that it is completely arbitrary to declare one plant a weed while another appears in sumptuous splendour at the Chelsea Flower Show…as if, somehow, a nasty system of discrimination extends even to plant life.

And who, as children, didn’t love watching the seeds be carried away on the wind and marvel at their lightness of being?

Dandelion Clocks

After rain, blurred moon bubbles rise

In the green space of late spring grass.

 

Minutes from the rounded clock-face

Of dandelion hours,

 

Those bubbles burst

In a supernova of wind-strewn stars

 

Floating free on far-off fields,

Seeding next year’s leonine suns

 

In interstellar showers…

After rain.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher

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One Woman’s Daily Commute

For five years I made a daily round trip from mainland Kent to the Isle of Sheppey, in those days accessible only via a small, narrow,  vertical-lift bridge. I loved the long views across the marshes as I travelled, as well as the bird life I saw each day.

Island Run

Dawn:
Sun slices open like a bloody orange.
Marsh mirrors flash mischief
(A little Indian magic)
To ward away the sky’s so evil eye.
Beside them, the long, dark finger of the train
Unpicks the stitching of the railway line;
Beyond, pylons pierce and thread that sky
And great cranes cut its calico,
Scissoring coldly through the cloth,
Ripping through the motley rags of clouds
To part the heavy fabric of the day.

Dusk:
Muscovy and moorhen tack their way
Through roosting reed-beds homewards.
An overweight old moon is gathered
Into the new moon’s hammocked arms.
Motorists, tyred and tired, drag hems of smoke behind them
While long white chimney fingers quilt
Cotton wool on cambric blue; and mist uncoils
Like dragon appliqués from hill and water
Until . . . fog shrouds and silences all.
Then seagulls swoop and loop embroidery
To mend the rending tear of worn-out day.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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Eclipse

For most people in the UK, March’s solar eclipse was a bit of a non-event. Even so, what struck me about it was the way, with encroaching darkness, all spring birdsong stopped. Thank you, Pauline Pilcher, for the wonderful eclipse photo taken from the Faroes that day!

Eclipse *

The pod of morning unfolds with a flower of evening;
So daybreak begins with a kind of mourning—
A lament for the failing of lovely light.

As winds drop out, the lively leaves (first blush of buds
In canary yellow, woodpecker green)
Swing loose in the sudden breathless stillness,
Velvet chains hanging slack in willows.

Woodpigeons cease their murmuring mutter,
Thrushes their exultant singing.
Starlings stop their burbling chatter.
Even crooning collared doves fall quiet;
They fan their tails, preen plumage, rest & roost.
All soft winged things are hushed.

The willows’ lush spring waterfalls haul in
All folded feathers, muted birds; they make
Small vivid dashes, splashes of colour
In the leaden, dwindling light.

And skies tilt down—the sun’s great bonfire dips
To smoke. Already it is dusk: deep dusk.
The Earth’s husk tips. Eclipse!

© Lizzie Ballagher
* Solar eclipse 20th March, 2015

Eclipse 20th March 2015, photo (c) Pauline Pilcher

Image (c) Pauline Pilcher