From the road, a wisp of wood smoke betrayed the house, rough granite face,
sagging slate roof, set into the head of the Cornish valley.
The old farmhouse had waited for them.
Through granite posts guarding the gateway,
walking wide-eyed down the entrance drive,
and around the corner, they saw it:
The crouching house, climbing out of the hillside,
stared at them warily, stretched, door yawning.
A sad grey roof and weatherbeaten face,
ready to retire down into the rock.
Hopeful peasants hut, grown up and out
as children had grown up and died;
solid walls soaking up their lives,
and returning their care with comfort.
Breathing them in through the open door,
House closed in round the Newcomers.
"These will do, yes,this couple will do"
the chatter hummed through its fabric.
The creaking door closed silently,
the cold stone chimney drew strongly,
grate glowed and the rough walls warmed,
as old House prepared for a new life.
A Letter From Penrest, Cornwall.
From my diary. 16th September 1996
Down the track and past the spring that bubbles out the bank
into a trough of mossy stone, and splashing 'cross the ford.
Past a patch of king thistles and rushes, through oak trees
standing broad bold upright 'gainst the angle of the land.
Climbing higher to the corner of the topmost pasture,
underneath the shelter of the stone walled hedgerow.
There stripping clothes to lie upon, in the grassy meadow;
wild flowers are growing at my head, and dandelions below
The soft'ning heat of September sun soaks down into me.
A warm breeze rushles through the pasture, fingering
limbs and hair, and my taut body relaxes at its caress.
Out of my fingertips seeps the unwritten, the undone,
the unfelt kisses, unsaid words that made an iron band.
A spider scurries down my thigh, a dragonfly darts past.
A green grasshopper sounds crizc-crizc, in hiding near my head
And my mind floats far away with, the thistledown on the air.
Shading my tired eyes from the hot bright burning light,
I look through the foxtailed grass that brushes a too blue sky
with soft breeze blowen strokes. Overhead a buzzard falls
tumbling out the sun with finger-feathered wings aglow.
It wonders what dead meat might this naked body be,
sees movement, wheels up away. I soar aloft with it;
see my own supine self lying, white golden in the green;
soar higher yet and higher, on outstretch'ed wing of dream;
I see a past love playing, chain of daisies round her neck;
see long dead children dancing, in white smocks berry stained;
hear their laughter ringing loud, and the sounds of harvests gone:
click-clatter of the cutterbar, the rustle of the rake.
What soaring soul in time to come will look down on me in envy;
this moment's mine, the pasts sights and sounds, and as
the sweet warm nose of well made hay comes wafting up to me,
gliding on the wings of peace, Penrest sets my spirit free.
Way to the East is wild Dartmoor, its heights lost in the haze.
To the West rises the black plateau of cruel Bodmin Moor,
the moor of yore, King Arthur's knights and of Jamaica Inn,
edged by the crags of Twelve Men's Tor, Hawks Tor and Trewortha.
To the South the softly rounded hills of Kit and Caradon
rise beyond the belly of the green hedge-netted land,
up into which cuts the darker gash of the Trekenner gorge
that runs into the wooded vale of the River Inny by the ford.
The sun is lower now. The trees a fray`ed pattern make
of many shaded green. And on the far horizon rays
light red the old stone tower of the worked-out copper mine
that points in accusation at the sky; a reminder of
the hand-hewn shafts below. While tiny grazing cattle,
like lost toys, lay still shadows 'gainst the far off fields.
Pigeons race low home to roost, the peregrine looks for prey,
and a flight of crows flies black, across the cloudless sky.
NiC.28 Sept 96
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