I was away for Easter with no internet access so no poems posted - however I did write some and I'm posting up this - a strange one and I haven't quite realised the ending, but I hope you might enjoy it. Back to a poem a day tomorrow. Happy Spring!
‘...we used no more than a hundredth part of the gift we received for our long journey.’
Czeslaw Milosz, Late Ripeness
They were each given one, even the smallest and most quiet, and they cradled it, wrapped in a shawl or sheet or blanket. They held their bundles carefully as if they might break. Some were covered in old fleece, others in hand-knitted baby shawls, and one boy held his flat and level in a padded lunch bag. Whatever they saw - a field mouse, a whirlwind or the slant of rain driving into earth, they held on tightly but loosely, their wrists bent and hands splayed.
They carried them in their bare arms and slept with them at night, wrapped in the C of their soft bodies. They fell asleep with a hand resting on them or a finger slipped under the shawl, never letting go, even in the deepest hours.
At dawn, they shifted and stirred with the leaves and seed heads and geese. Their hands reached out before they fully awoke, checking the bundles were still there. They let the day wash through their brains and eyelids, turn their sight pinky-red before rising, starting up the long thrum of warmth, love, rest.
They ate sitting round the remains of the night fire, toes in its smooth ash, the bundles always with them, cradled on their laps or in the dip of crossed legs.
They held the bundles high from the smell as they squatted behind bushes. They rolled up tarpaulins with their bundles tucked into armpits. They stamped out the fire, filled their bottles with water from the stream.
There was always a stream, and there were always trees for shelter against the wind and the rain, for protection on the vast wide plains. They always had each other.
As they got closer, the bundles began to shift in their arms, grow heavier. Walking towards the moat, each bundle took on the weight of iron, burning their finger pads and biceps.
They moved closer, the blankets unravelling now and trailing on the ground but they kept holding on. They could no longer see each other clearly and they did not care.
Soon enough, they stopped, looked down into the depths where fish sliced silver paths. Across the waters the castle bulked into darkness, dark over lighter dark, and through the arrow slits shone the eyes of their parents and their parents and theirs.
They had always known what to do: they laid them down on the waters’ edge - pink, blue, brown blankets, dirty and tattered, lined with old satin, crocheted and holey. All were distinct and all were stained.
The bundles opened quietly as hands, and a creature crawled from each one, its ancient beaked head making for the water, its remarkable scutes glinting in the moonlight.
As each broke the surface of the moat and slid away, they lay down on the grass to rest.
And they dreamt the crawl from the peaty depths, the climb up the far side of the bank where the open drawbridge waited.