A Lifetime Away

A Lifetime Away

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Photo … Priory East Window – © WHB

 

Three hundred miles
and a lifetime away
from the place where I was born 
the memories are vivid
burned into my soul
heightened by distance
by time past

Ghosts of my past
inhabit my dreams
chances gone begging
opportunities missed
loving and leaving
a heritage of hope
bringing certitude
where doubt once held sway.

I loved and love
those dark purple hills
outcrops and the Nab
towering over the town
Cass Rock
where Sisyphus finally capitulated

Beyond these,
just rolling
heather clad moor
soft dales 
grey-green heathland,
burnt golden yellow gorse
and swaying bracken

And on the scarp slope
the detritus of iron mines
defunct air shafts
ancient workings
the ruins of hard labour
and alongside these
pyramids of shale and slag
creating their own foothills
bracken spores now binding
their surfaces
reconstructing life
nature reclaiming its own

And the view which nurtured me
from my school room
of graveyard and priory
its arched east window
tracery shattered
configuring my sky

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‘Priory and Applegarth . . . Pen & Wash – WHB

The ancient stone dovecote
now sheltering jackdaws
ravens, blackbirds.
the Norman arched gateway
still standing adrift
isolated from the remnants
of its dismantled
castellated walls
whose dispersed masonry
now furnishes
so many of the town’s dwellings

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Norman Arch &Dovecote … Photo ©WHB

The mill pond stocked still
by the descendants of those
pre-dissolution carp
the Augustinians first introduced
fed and nurtured

The monk’s walk
cloistered
by beech and birch
sheltering silent contemplation
which
even now
as I tread in their footsteps
I replicate
in awe and reverence

And in the Apple Garth
where now the wheat
is harvested
still a silent windswept
arbour
now lovers
not penitents
linger
embrace
exchange kisses
and vows.

Thus am I now
beholden to the past
nurturer of my present
promise of my future

NYorksMoors-Roseberry

Hills on the north scarp of the North Yorkshire Moors

 

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No Blue Plaque

NO BLUE PLAQUE

No blue plaque here
but
in that house
in that room
I was conceived.
In the same house
in the same room
then I was born.

First child
Only child
Undistinguished house

undistinguished room
undistinguished birth.
But blessed with
the Conquering
Blood and Fire
General’s name.

It had to be that way.
Aren’t all births
distinguished only by their
unglamorous spectacle?
Not something I asked for
nor desired.

No regrets,
but there were
Consequences.
Oh, yes.
Eighty years
of consequences.
My history
My responsibility
My river’s ride
through childhood rapids
to maturity’s turmoil
and turbulence.
Becalmed now
in dispiriting dotage
its stillnesses
its infirmity and nostalgia.

What follows
eventually
as I merge
with the looming ocean

waiting
to receive me?
Memories fade for me
yet I know
some continuity remains
where these same images
 have been handed on

to those loved ones
who will remember.

But now
in moments of tranquility
my responsibility
for my past
presses hard,
until those times when
 my love surges
to outweigh my guilt,
and again
for good or ill
my scarred soul

returns to its past
and wonders.

… and time treads on
as I stare at the window,
blinds shielding its secrets
Now
just as they did then
So long ago.

Sussex-Mar09

All 3 photographs … WHB – Yorkshire (2016) and Sussex (2009), UK

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