CHALKIA BEACH
S.W. Crete

Out of the wind, but also the sand
edging the shade of the big tamarisk trees.
The stony beach thins out. Bodies
become sunlit stones. Bodies
become gradually more naked. Time maybe
moves backwards, after all.

And in the silence broken only by waves
poetry can begin again
the swaying branches of the tamarisk, breathed in the wind
rooted under the pebbles, hardily persevering
for at least as long as you were last
a teenage traveller, seeing the end of your life
as distinct as that broken fortress on the horizon.

Barbarossa broke it from the Venetians,
never rebuilt or possessed. Its wreck
almost invisible above a peaceful tourist town.
Barbarossa went on to Chania and his destiny,
his death awaiting him. His reckoning
or anyone's, the soul gathered home
when something beyond our understanding is completed,
nor do we measure the completion.

It lives in us, biding its time.
It breathes beyond judgement like the wind in the tree.
Perhaps its other name is poetry.

The heads of two swimmers hover close to kiss
then stand up to leave the water.

Love weighs each of us in its scales;
only the waves are never found wanting

or the dawn that breathes the miracle of life
into every day as it is.





OLIVES
Sierra Nevada, Spain

Every one an oak in miniature
their gnarled twisted trunks become arms
reaching in their own dance—
and defiant of age (of sawn
lopped branches...) their sap
soft as balsa wood, and at their base
strong viridian growth of sapling shoots
with their polished evergreen leaves like beans
to the clustered fruit above: green testes
shaken to their nets like waiting skirts
shirts, blankets thrown over them
clambered on by old men.

Thunder trees, their full squat height
hanging rain-branches like willow
in a green downpour under mountain sky
green-gold as their pressed effluent...
made to be shaken, rock-rooted
in their stony groves: obdurate
and swathed at their base, bark pleated
over holes for fairies or snakes.

Virgins for years
before an outrageous senescence,
ruled by a planet where only their own kind grow.





SICKLE MOON AND STAR
for Ru, aged 10

Perfect sickle moon aligned
with its star beneath like a flung arrow
clear in the pale blue evening sky—
as we linger on the garden bench...

'It's like a banana. I've seen it !', you shrug.
I tell you the difference
between seeing and poetry seeing
'Yup'—you get it.

And as sickle becomes scythe
in its clear sweep of the purest air—
I know I'm passing on something
beyond this moment, beyond my life

(far beyond the clouds passing beneath them
echoing the smoke of next door's woodburner...)

where it may shine in you for as long
before it passes, on and on.


       Jay Ramsay 2015