Brief Shining Moment

Life’s brevity extends another day.
A blackbird sings a brilliant hymn to spring.
Beside the burbling stream young otters play.
Trees bud new leaves, and almost everything
takes joy and magnifies it. Life is good.
Here, liveliest of all, a human child
dances lightly as the gods had known she would.
They count her days. She won’t, not for a while.

Nothing in Particular

Watching my my twenty-something thousandth sunrise,
Not that I have personally seen them all,
Having ceded some to clouds external and internal
Or simply from being asleep at the switch
From night to day
I rejoice with a mildness appropriate to
Septuagenarians settled by semi-centuries
Of taking lives as they come
Not that I ever have
Two seagulls fly over
Golden sun-rays beneath their wings
Lifting my spirits. I pour tea.

Morning Miracle

It’s predawn, and the wood doves are silent.
The sun slumbers under the sea.
One blackbird sings achingly sweetly
diluting the darkness with zeal.
Further off, past the sound of the breakers,
first light limns the edge of the world.
The wood doves and we and the blackbird
are witnesses: sunrise is grand.

Bug is the New Thanksgiving Turkey

The turkey that lurked in the lee of the lemonade stand
through the hum of the summer, and most of the autumn, till now,
appears on my plate, and surprised — existentially here.
I’ve had a lot on my plate, but a livid, live turkey’s absurd.
Should not slaughter, dissection, and plucking precede being served
like a badminton cock, or a locker-room sock that has swerved
through the air with a flare lit to guide it. I guess I digress.
I open my eyes. Tom Turkey stands still on my plate
and for his conviction that we should, like he does, eat bugs
to stay lean, and less mean, and friendlier to our friends the birds.
He flies off and leaves me with crickets, ants, mealworms and beans.

Red Horse Dancing

The red horse dances hours in the sun
rehearsing two steps left, a bow, a stretch.
Three wading birds make no tracks as they walk
across dried mud. It’s hot in the Camargue.
I take the heat and watch the dancing horse.
The horse nor I will try to ford the mud.

There’s no one here, forever, in this heat.

Flamingos wade the water, browsing gunk,
and muskrats gnaw the cane grass. I am home.
‘The Black Book’ — Durrell’s premier published work —
lies where I dropped it, Tarquin’s tortured ‘lorve’
no match for red-horse dancing. Egrets fly
around flamingos, muskrats, horse and me.

I think how Durrell’s ‘Quinx’ taught me the tales
that brought me to this flat and open space:
gypsies in Les Saintes Maries de la Mer.
That town’s now filled with tourists, but out here
the red horse dances. Alan has come home.

I saw this horse, free and loose (across the mud flat of the Mudflat Bat), dancing by himself for at least an hour. I’m couldn’t really stay there forever, although I was tempted. I don’t think you can be home in any one place when you are an Earth Tourist.

Mudflat Bat

The crescent moon hangs south, above the sea.
Out here in the Camargue the mud-flat bat
flies higher now. The atmosphere, you see,
has lightened. Insects lift, ensuring that
the mud-flat bat’s own mouth and mine won’t splat.
He flew so low on Wednesday that I feared
I’d swallow him in darkness, furry-eared
and sonaring the night. It scared him too.
Mosquitoes, the ones who Wednesday rudely jeered,
become his meal, malaria his stew.

Another ‘postcard’ — this one from the Camargue, a place of magic for me and part of the marshy delta where the Rhône river spreads out south of Avignon. In July the Camargue is hot and as dry as Arizona; in the winter two-thirds of it is underwater, sometimes only a few centimetres deep. I wrote this there one night, two miles north of the Mediterranean, standing out on a mudflat edge watching this particular bat inveigling me to write about him, or to open my mouth.

Lemon Hill

The poor and lame climb up this hill when the fruit begins to grow.
The going blind watch from the shade and squint at April’s glow.
When flowers finish blooming and the rain pails them away,
petals pour down darkling hills and pollen swims the bay.
In May the buds begin to swell, accelerate their slow
chill winter’s start and form gold orbs absorbing sun in rows.

June’s sun bakes shade from leafy trees where turgid spiders spin
the webs they lime to catch their prey that had its own chance when
down in the roots the fly-nests blew, and the buzz that blind men hate
teased sighted heads as flies laid eggs in eyes, to incubate.
July sees owners mend the wires delineating groves
and joke with wide-eyed pickers who’re returning here in droves.

The healthy climbers harvest two to the blind or cripple’s one
as all hands strive together in the sweltering August sun.
Hands reach up where the branches fork, and arms stretch down to throw
ripe lemons in reed baskets with a braggadocio
that helps them harvest money now, to live on when it’s slow
and dulled eyes shine reflecting back when fruit began to grow.

© Alan Reynolds. Published in THE ARMCHAIR AESTHETE, Issue 16, Summer, 2001, New York.
Having taken a ferry from an island to the Greek mainland, we cycled uphill to a lemon grove exuding a fragrance I thought literally ‘heavenly’ in a place that was an antonym of ‘haven.’ Half-starved cats, more semi-persecuted scavengers than pets, wandered among people suffering from white-eyed blindness that I guessed, perhaps correctly, came from blow-flies. And heptameter meter ‘chose me’ to try to portray the strange mix of richly fruiting trees with heat-stilled inhabitants.