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October 2013, vol 9, no 3

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Claire Everett

Rose Windows

"Happiness [is] only real when shared"

― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

My daughter relates how, on her walk today, she somehow acquired a menagerie of farmyard animals. Crossing the bridge over the stream, she looked back to find, like some secret child of Dolittle, she had a waddle of hens, ducks and geese in tow, which she had to shoo back, flapping her arms, half-glad, half-sad that no one was there to see.

of all the moments

beneath this leaf-swept sky

ripe berries!

the crackling song of fieldfares

one hundred strong

"You should have been there, Mum", she said, just as she did the first time she saw a kingfisher. Wrapped up in her electric-blue coat, she'd been crouched by the beck, watching a tree creeper turning the morning around on the ivied bole of a willow, when something flashed by, skimming the water "like a sigh" she'd said. Oh, if only it had perched, even for a second, long enough for her to take in its iridescence, to not doubt what she'd seen.

She is fluent in birdsong and teaches me phonetically, because the birds I see are rarely the birds I hear.

if frost could sing

at the touch of sunlight . . .


how my father would have loved

his granddaughter

On the borders of sleep I revisit many of the paths I walked with my father. I remember one blue-sky day, how we scrambled up that ridge of tors to find, when we looked north, south, east and west, it seemed we were the last two people alive. I still can see the quartzite glittering in the sun and feel the morning holding its breath for that geological house of cards. Had either of us been alone there we surely would have doubted the speed at which the mist descended to fill the Devil's Gutter; we'd have dismissed the accompanying stench of brimstone as a trick of the mind. What if one of us had dared to test the prophecy, by sitting out the longest night, straight-backed in that ancient chair? How often was a legend born because someone gave credence to a tale told by a babbling fool?


on that rocky throne

when the raven clears

the night from its craw, will I

be lunatic or sage?

And there are paths I have walked alone; copse and glen that I have chanced upon, rose-windows into myself. How like first-time love, when it seems that no one passed that way before! Vistas so small, they have eluded the map-makers. I name them myself, sinking posts as way-markers for a wandering mind.

blood of the mountains

spilling light from crag to tarn

and faery well . . .

and I a skipped beat

in the heart of summer

Roebuck Path: still, there are needles in my cleats from when love last made its way through the pines. In a breeze, heady with the mountain's blues, might they, as they sway, remember us?

sentries of time

perhaps mine is one

of the whispered names

and his, the perfume

of a moment's hush

dawn-planished lake

like a salver offered up

to my heart . . .

in these beloved heights

my hand bereft of his