Three Poems

By Jon Croose

Sanctuaries

To the thistle,
down a goldfinch flies,
‘neath looping wire, and corn grown high;
next: gathered hay and buzzing fly,
while gravelled dust begins to rise
in the spaces cut, twixt crops and sky,
and the sun sinks low
at harvest time,
and swallows gather on the lines;

and the skies begin to ache with cloud,
and breezes blow,
and seed-heads crowd;
and far-off dogs send out the call,
to warn unwary trespassers all;
and larks ascend, and pigeons coo,
in the warming air twixt me and you;

and bread is baked
and rosehip brewed,
and nights draw in the ripened mood,
and all is grown, and all is good,
between the river and the wood.

No distance here,
save tree and sky, and silhouette and pheasant cry,
no mask, save twilight’s fading eye,
no breath to fear,
just in and out,
no regulation, harm, or doubt,
just butterfly
and cockerel call,
red brick, and tile,
and ancient wall,
and buried plough
let fall, of old,
and Roman road,
and Saxon gold.

Perseids

A summer storm,
that slowly rolls
o’er depth of field,
brings cloud,
grey rain
and breath
witheld;

the sky,
repopulated now
with planes,
is bright
with pinprick,
orbit,
satellite,
and gimlet eye,
and deepest,
blue-lit lightning flares
discharge the current
of the hot,
dog-day;

eleven bells
Ashburton’s tower declares,
while up above,
the void, in strobe,
adjusts
electric gravities:

electrons pull and push,
and, back and forth
between its points,
small smears of dust
light up,
half/seen,
too quick for capture;
the briefest
blazing
beauties
of the spheres;

below, confined
by earthly chains
and neighbourhood,
are muffled voice,
and laughter track,
and football crowds
that cheer
through windows, open
for the blessed chance
of cooling air;

those streaking swifts
of light on high
know nothing
of our small concerns,
our little lives,
but, rather, blaze
and die
and fall to earth,
their mortal particles
consumed by fire;

in this co-ordinate
of hurtling rock
I feel the globe
and all its shock:
its periodic table, set
for empty feast,
its fleeting joys,
its struggles to be born,
its funerals
and wedding days
and creatures
hid, at woodland edge,
its rivers, seas
and atmospheres,
its quarter-moon,
its newly-dead;

each silver light-year,
bang on time,
they come,
to watch us gaze and stare
like children, taken
by surprise
at the infinite
drama
of the skies.

Precipitation

At last, a storm
to break the weather,
the waiting, waiting
finally
over;

cleansing water
clears the gutter,
bringing down our temperature,
lessening the load
and washing
our anxious lungs;

its droplets,
large and fresh
as sweet Sicilian lemons,
briefly quench
our fear of sickness,
as if the rain
itself were medicine;

its rivers, sudden
as a rising flock of birds,
lift scabs of asphalt
from roads
untended
since before the Fall,
and swimming cars
grow wings
of water.

Later, in the midnight lane,
the steady drip-drip
of hedgerow,
the moisture of crickets,
the starless sky drawn down
in humid mist,
and the close,
pitch-black proximity
of alarm
at every small
and hidden thing;

miasma,
echo
and something following;


hairs twitch
on back
of neck
as water spirits
crawl up,
and out
from beneath stone bridge,
and walk
the track
of don’t-look-back.

This is how water
runs off the moor:

the midnight hel-skelter
down from Hay Tor,
fluid from Druid
and beneath Great Bridge;

into the cellars
and under the floorboards
and round all the corners
and over the crossroads;

diving again
through trough, pipe and ginnel,
lifting the covers
and soaking the flannels;

filling the buckets
and stretching the cisterns
past Stone Park,
and Pear Tree
and on

to the sea…

Jon Croose lives in Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. He writes a mix of political and pastoral verse and works as a university lecturer, theatre-maker and musician.

Sanctuaries: The beginning of the pandemic was full of fear and anxiety, as we all adjusted to a scary new world. Then, during an essential journey to support a vulnerable relative, I found myself sitting on the edge of a Norfolk field, far from anywhere, and Nature began to work its healing magic…

Perseids: Good weather has kept me sane over the last few months. Recently, the country was gripped by the longest August heatwave in 30 years, so the skies were gloriously clear for the annual Perseids meteor shower. I wrote this late at night as I lay on my bathroom roof watching a sky full of stars…

Precipitation: This poem was written just last week, when my home town of Ashburton got a big dose of welcome rain, a deluge that felt like the best medicine for the powerful heat of these uncertain times. Since lockdown, I have taken to walking late at night, when the town and its surrounding Dartmoor lanes are empty of people. It is a beautiful, peaceful time, but after a storm it is also a moment when water spirits like Dartmoor’s famous Cutty Dyer are free to roam and work their mischief…

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Lori Bonati
Guest
13 days ago

Sanctuaries made me think of the wonderful British TV series, “Detectorists.” Have you seen it? I highly recommend it to all my friends. I also liked Precipitation so much that I read it aloud. Good rhythm and word play. Refreshing, too!

Jon Croose
Guest
Jon Croose
12 days ago
Reply to  Lori Bonati

Thanks Lori, I really appreciate your comments. I checked out your song. Good luck in November.

Mary Kallagher
Guest
Mary Kallagher
14 days ago

Evocative and moving with a great sense of time and place. A pleasure to read.

Mary Kallagher
Guest
Mary Kallagher
14 days ago

Evocative and moving with a great sense of place and time. A pleasure to read.

Petronilla Whitfield
Guest
Petronilla Whitfield
14 days ago

Beautiful poems! excellent writing,sometimes quite Shakespearean in language

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