For Vincent Van Gogh, 29th July, 1890

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Image by Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

Sometimes it happens that moved by some trifle
the flood-gates of the heart will seize fast.
Then tears that seemed foolish become a great flood,
a passion that defies all explanation.

In the very young you may see it sometimes
when they throw back their heads and howl,
their plump cheeks red, their eyes screwed tight,
their small fists like windmills through the air.

Do not think it naughtiness. It is no show of mere petulance
but the human condition that has touched them.
They cry their frustration with a world so cruel
that it will not let them have and be.

And the elderly too who have least time left for tears
will weep at the slightest provocation.
This may be what love is: to be touched,
to be pierced by this well-spring that has no end.

Yesterday I watched as three baby rabbits
frolicked after sunbeams in my garden.
Such a tenderness engulfed me.
Later, this morning, I counted only two.

Now, this same evening, a summer storm rages.
It tears at the beauty of my poppies.
My heart bleeds to see them crushed.
As you say, my friend, this sadness never ends.

 

© Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

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Of Spiders and Threads

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Image by David Rowland
By narrow light
of thin, hooked moon
a busy spider spins
to turn to grace
her public face by fair
and private means.
A silver spool, a pool
of pearls, and rubies,
deep as hearts are dark.
Such are the jewels
a spider keeps to bless
her precious work.
Then inch by inch
comes creeping dawn
when spider’s midnight
toils must cease.
The fruits of all her
labour this bright
opal’s fiery face.
© Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Smith

 

 

Lee Shore

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Image by David Rowland

 

I remember the day the tied went out,
with my toes in shifting sand,
the day we walked by the restless sea
with our backs to the huddling town:
when the salt breeze lifted up your hair
and I failed to understand
that, on this day, the sky would fall
and the stars flee underground.

We strolled from crop to rocky crop
across the sun-streaked shore,
and laid our fleeting tracks of time
where none had been before;
and I called to you above the wind
but it chanced that you did not hear;
for you turned your steps towards the waves
and I was left standing there.

Perhaps it was the sea’s complaint
that rose and fell in your head;
perhaps, it wasn’t me at all,
nothing I did or said.
I like to think you didn’t know,
that it took you by surprise,
the day you shook the heavens
till the stars fell from the skies.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley (previously Wyatt)

Ice Age

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This time we more than disagree;
the air between us is arctic.
Though I hear the snow shiver
and the ice groan,
there is little hope of a thaw.

I search your face anyway
for signs of spring;
the poppies on your lips still flower;
but your tongue tears
at the root of my mouth,
and your sharp eyes.