In the walled garden by the church, early crocuses are in flower.
[…] Under the trees
a crocus campfire kindles.
Yes, the half-closed flowers remind me of flames. But they also remind me of praying hands, though when they open more fully, it’s more as if the petals were spread wide to receive whatever alms or largess the prayers have prompted.
I don’t have much prayer in my poetry, although sometimes I think writing a poem can be a way of giving thanks.
Here, though, is Aminah, who recognises some power beyond herself and finds her own kind of prayer everywhere she goes and in everything she sees and does.
Peep-toe magenta sandals patter
beneath a dipping Indian-cotton hem.
Magenta tips her fingers, too: bright
talons contradict the whispering touch
that transmits sympathy to dryads
held fast within wooden bench slats,
telegraph poles and urban trees.
Skipping over pavement cracks,
she sidesteps an aluminium ladder.
Aminah’s off to gather blackberries:
she craves one last October pie before
the Devil spoils them in his spite.
She nods to the green man who watches
from the wall, then takes the deasil route
around the churchyard, holding her skirts
tight at the knee: Aminah’s always careful
where her shadow falls. From the yew,
a single magpie caws – greeting or warning?
Her answer’s formulaic – How’s your lady-wife today?
– but every bit as warm as her Good morning
to the sexton at the vestry door.
Her skirts tucked high, Aminah picks fruit
from brambles strung with bryony; sun-filled
and soft, the purple sacs burst open
and she laughs: now, legs, lips and fingers
match her shoes. Returning through God’s acre,
she pauses to watch the vicar’s cat
padding beneath the trees. White
flashes up above. Aminah bobs a curtsey,
glad to see the magpie’s found his mate.
Back home and barefoot in the kitchen,
she ponders the pictogram her footsteps
traced and wonders who will read the map
she danced. She sprinkles wine then mops the floor.
Later, prayer-book in hand, she kneels
and asks the angels to keep watch.
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