Blue Earth, Green Light

Cut the earth and it bleeds

Blue blood:

Bluebells among the brutal butchery

Of coppiced beech, of oak corpses

Felled

By cacophonous winds

This winter gone.

 

While heaven’s hue falls

Full

In ocean pools, cobalt

Below the April leaves,

And cuckoos

Brand the air with heartbreak,

Blue earth gives out green light.

 

Cut the earth and it bleeds

Blue blood:

Bluebells under the frill and trill

Of singing green, of winging green,

Feathered

By starry-eyed blackbirds

This slow, slow spring.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher

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Spring at the start of autumn

Here is the second of two poems recently commended by poet John Siddique in the 2015 Poetry Space international competition: a reminder of spring at the start of autumn. Happy those in the southern hemisphere right now!

View from a High, High Window
Wind stirs the starred uncurling leaves
Beyond this glass, between these eaves,
And the long town settles with a sigh.

Blue twilight pulls a blanket on the day–
The great uneven bed of it–spreading,
Shouldering night across hunched rooftops.

Now night sets out the seedling lights
The way your lover’s hands set out
Spring seeds within the rain-dark earth.

Then lights bloom bright as paths of marigolds
Which I would tread with cool bare feet
To follow to your arms, your sleep.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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On this May day

A favourite month for many people, how welcome is May!

On This Day

On this day
When pale cherry blossoms confetti pink from trees,
When bees hum bright from crevices in broken walls,
When aspen seeds and thistledown float soft in air,
When sycamores unfurling drop their tassels—gold—

On this day
When whistling swifts arrive
To scallop and swoop
Quick, dark lightning
Over roofs and under eaves—

On this day
I tread with you through deep bruised skies of bluebells:
The first of May—
On this day.

(c) 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

 

Bluebell Season Starts

This post is for Sue and for other fellow writers on Poetry Space and cyberspace beyond, with thanks for all the encouragement!

BLUE EARTH, GREEN LIGHT

Cut the earth and it bleeds
Blue blood:
Bluebells among the brutal butchery
Of coppiced beech, of oak corpses
Felled
By cacophonous winds
This winter gone.

While heaven’s hue falls
Full
In ocean pools, cobalt
Below the April leaves,
And cuckoos
Brand the air with heartbreak,
Blue earth gives out green light.

Cut the earth and it bleeds
Blue blood:
Bluebells under the frill and trill
Of singing green, of winging green
Feathered
By starry-eyed blackbirds
This slow, slow spring.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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Spring is nearly here!

Spring Comes to the Island

At the parting of the choking seas,
Between the banking up of alien blooms,
The chariots of philistines
Rage and roar and ride across
As a raw wind stipples the water,
As a blue wind ripples the rape–
And their blinding road is frilled
With foaming flowers.

Those rape fields slash and burn the innocent countryside
With streaks
Of oily yellow:
A gallery of violent Van Gogh canvases,
A brainstorm of suicidal painters,
And the live earth smokes and smolders

While a sharp hawk shoulders
That wind, menacing
The feathered sky,
The bright-eyed, whiskered ground–
Then swoops
Plumb straight
To snatch
A little pollen-dusted vole.

© Lizzie Ballagher

Oil-seed rape may not be everyone’s favourite crop, but after the greys of winter, how wonderful to see the light of spring reflected in the colours of the landscape.

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Memories

Motherhood: perhaps not a commonly used word now, but beloved, nevertheless. Because most of my work is about inner and outer landscapes, poems which my children might read when they grew up have rarely come to mind. “The Cry of Birds” (below) is, however, one such. Recently chosen for Poetry Space’s 2015 spring showcase, this poem was in fact written for my daughter over thirty years ago.

The Cry of Birds

I pause for a moment
Weary and still
In the first spring rain
That falls uncertainly on my hair.
The splash and spit and drip
Are all I hear
On this country grey March morning
That hangs thin mist in my eyes.

The child in my arms wakes
From uterine dreams; her eyes
Wondering and still seek mine to explain
The sweet, the shrill, the shriek:
The cry of birds in the rain.
Hush! Never before has my summer-born child
Heard birds sing
In spring rain.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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