‘Journey To The Line’ (2014)

(To appreciate this poem I would like you to listen to this piece of music whilst you read it https://youtu.be/TG9-j3eevL4)

Autumn
The early morning damp fills my nose
I step out and close the creaky door
Behind me sleeps my beloved wife
Our adorable, precious children
Behind me now sleeps my life

Returned
Altered but returned
Revived…

My fingers grab the knarled, knobbled surface of my staff
I use it to open the latch on the gate, my gate
I smell the last of my wife’s summer flowers
Petal’s falling

Diving into the coming frost
The reclaimed iron gate clangs shut…
I stand a moment
Breathe in the air
Fills my lungs
Replacing the stone in my heart
With a birthday party balloon
These moments were elusive
Fading away
Now I reach out to the mountains
Now I grab them with both hands
And I smile

Returned…

My footsteps echo
Through the shells of the buildings that remain
Clinging to life
Despite the peppered entry holes
Which my son turns into dot-to-dot pictures
When we walk to the shop for paprika and twenty Drina…

I take the footpath up
The ancient cobbles
Turn to muddied rocks
Then to clumps of soggy earth
Each step upward
Where no-one goes
No-one goes here
My livelihood is safe
Beyond the drystone wall, barbed wire enclosures
The pastures are lush, green

Revitalized…

My livelihood
Feast from the floor
Six heads bob up and down
I call out to them
“Ovaca! Ovaca!”
My hand steadies me on the wall
I push my trusty staff down
Into the ground
Push it down as I climb the low piles of rocks
The top stone wobbles as it always does
My rough boots splash in the brown puddle
As I step down

The sheep amble away from me
Slightly discontented
I cajole them
Herd them together
Towards the gateless gap in the wall
And the small wood through
Beyond which is the newly discovered pasture
Full of that fresh revitalized grass

Untouched…

The six before me
A gift from Europe
Obey, unwillingly and disgruntled
Lumber towards the trees
Those ancient trees
I have looked upon
During the hours spent sat on the wall
The hot sun burning down on my neck
My rolled up shirt sleeves
Flapping in the breeze
My wife commenting
On my sunburnt skin
On my peaceful look

Upon my return…

The peaceful look belies the memories
That flood my mind
That engulf me
As I sit on that drystone wall…

The rush, the crackle
The heaviness of breath
The chaos, the panic
The screaming of women
The rumble, the whistle
The confusion of the many
The children
The peace, the silence
The memories
That engulf my mind
That flood me

As I sit on that drystone wall…

Now that autumn has come
The heat has floated away
She lays a multi-coloured woollen jumper
Out for me in the morning
A gift from somewhere in Europe

Now the autumn has come
My sheep make the journey to warmth
But first I reward them with one last gift
Those pastures new
Beyond the woods
Those colourful trees
The crisp, orange leaves
Floating down into piles beneath
Homes from the frost

Twigs snap underfoot
Leaves crunch under hooves
Breaking the silence
Along with the morning bird call
Stillness in time
Stillness
In
Time…

The button clicks beneath my foot…

I stand a moment
Breathe in the air

I know
I know what it is
I know what it means
I know that’s it

Frozen to the spot
The sheep amble on
Panic fills my mind
Stiff limbs
Body stuck
Breeze against my cheeks

My mind swirls
Leaves spiral down…

My heart beats fast…
My daughter’s face, smile

My heart beats fast
My son’s goal celebration, joy

My heart beats fast
My wife’s hand, warm

My heart beats fast
My daughter’s laugh, tickle

My heart beats fast
My son’s eyes, curious

My heart beats fast
My wife’s kiss, love

Memories flow and flood
Muscles tense
Foot presses down firmly
Frozen to the spot

Memories flood and flow

My heart beats hard…
My daughter’s first birthday

My heart beats hard
My son’s first day at school

My heart beats hard
My wife’s beauty on our wedding day

My heart beats hard
My daughter’s hand in mine

My heart beats hard
My son listening to bedtime stories

My heart beats hard
My wife’s fresh, warm bread

My heart beats hard

Memories flow and flood
The leaves fall and float
The bird song fills my ears

Frozen to the spot
Memories flood and flow

My heart beat slows…
Sitting on my grandpa’s knee, listening

My heart beat slows
Gazing into the eyes of love, completing

My heart beat slows
Running through the hills, surviving

My heart beat slows
Hugging my life once more, returning

My heart beat slows

Memories flow and flood

Muscles tense

Frozen to the spot

The leaves fall and float

Memories flood and flow

My heart beat aches…
The life I’ve been robbed of

My heart beat aches
The wedding days I’ll never see

My heart beat aches
The mornings with my wife I’ve been robbed of

My heart beat aches
The sunrises over the hills I’ll never see

My heart beat aches
The family celebrations I’ve been robbed of

My heart beat aches
The grandchildren playing I’ll never see

My heart beat aches
The kisses from my loved ones I’ve been robbed of

My heart beat aches
The future I’ll never see

My heart beat aches

Memories flow and flood
The bird song fills my ears
Foot presses down firmly
Frozen to the spot
Memories flood and flow

Tear forms
My spirit resigned
Tear released
My goodbyes are sent up to the sky
Tear rolls
The faces of my love fill my view
Tear slides
The faces glow with streaked sunlight

Tear falls…

My foot lifts…

…Flash!

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