Trevor Elliott

After ‘Felix Randal’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

Trevor Elliott, the geologist, O he is dead then? My prayers have all failed

Who have lived in blissful ignorance while one so strong and vital

Was fighting, fighting, till time when courage failed him and the final

Fatal physical assault had struck and had prevailed.

 

Stillness spoke to him. Patient with Earth’s veiled

History, he marvelled at it all, his thirst was primal.

Mystery and wonder were his faith, his Bible

Rendered by the elements in stone and shale.

 

This giant of a man within his field was never

Arrogant or vain. His pleasures modest, Trevor

Loved his parents, wife and son. His garden cheered him.

 

Educating others was his passion, ever

Zealous to inspire, patient teacher whether

Well or ill, all loved him, and the rocks revered him.

 

In memory of Professor Trevor Elliott, 1949 – 2013

First published in Sarasvati

The Fo’c’s’le Inn, Combe Martin

Before the castle, a curious cove.

Slate slabs spike from right and left

pointing fingers at the tide’s temerity

in trying to erode and erase, and man

has tamed the waves’ break. Look! A wall

of slate has half-enclosed a pool

where, twice a day, a placid pond

appears and timid swimmers test

their limits. When the waters wane

new worlds appear in hidden hollows.

Trapped sea-beasts cannot evade

the spade and bucket, scoop and net.

Yet I prefer to stare through glass

the pass and repass as the creeping

saline seeps toward the terraced

tourists on their picnic benches.

I have not the strength to stride

to where the tide is waiting. Let it

come to me! I’ll greet its reaching

arms with just my feet. Eleven

years I’ve dreamed of frigid foam

surrounding skin. Too soon to charge

into the wet, but not to shuffle,

sluggish, over shingle, smiling

at the treat to come, the reek of weed

as lapping liquid licks my toes.

 

First published in Reach Poetry

 

Well

‘Taff’s Well.’ Your father read the sign.

‘I’m glad to hear that!’ The first time

it was funny. I know what he would say

to hear St Winefride’s Well. The legend goes

a virgin walked alone in verdant fields.

A selfish man with evil in his heart

attacked her, cut the sweet head

from her shoulders with the sword

of unrighteousness. A spring oozed

where it rolled and came to rest.

Her uncle, Beuno, scooped it from the ground

and fixed it firm again upon her neck.

Miraculous, the maiden lived once more

and pilgrims praising God have washed

their pains away in Winefride’s magic well

for centuries, forgetting that she truly

walked and lived and died. A story

so incredible does Winefride no justice

nor Beuno either, healer though he was.

Fourteen hundred years ago the saint

had built a simple chapel out of wood

beside a spring where many were baptised

and Winefride would listen as he spoke

of Jesus’ love. He sat upon a rock

to teach her. Perhaps he sat there too

to comfort her and heal her troubled mind

when Caradog had shattered all her peace.

This is where we came, my girl and I

To see if Winefride could make us well.

Three times we descended the stone steps

breathed in and held that breath against the shock

of water cold as hell from deep below

the rocks, unwarmed by sunlight in that cave.

Three times we prayed, ‘Dear Winefride, heal us both’

and stood at last on Beuno’s rock to pray

beneath the bright blue pool outside the well.

We drank, too, from the tap upon the wall

and prayed the words unchanged nine hundred years

before her statue. Dripping in our clothes

we stood and prayed before we left that place.

No miracles this year; perhaps it’s not our time

but still we search for answers and a cure.

 

First published in Reach Poetry

Seekers

I sought you on the mountain

but you were nor acquainted with its heights.

I sought you in the forest

but you had never reached into its depths.

I sought you in the torrent

but you had not been cleansed beneath its flood.

I sought you in the ocean

but you preferred the tame blue fettered pool.

 

I sought her in the nightclubs

but she was not among the harems there.

I sought her in the health clubs

but she preferred the healing of the air.

I sought her on the websites

but she disdained the two-dimension stare.

I sought her in the bar-rooms

but she was not addicted to despair.

 

He found her in a notebook

that someone had discarded on the Tube

as being of no value.

He found her in a fable

that she had never shown to any other

for fear of disappointment.

She found him lost in wonder

that he had never known of her existence

until her words had found him.

 

First published in Reach Poetry

Zeugma

I was in love and a red silk dress

but he was in Spain and two minds at the time.

We were at loggerheads and a brand new club

when he said he was over me and a gentleman’s outfitters.

I said, ‘That’s beneath contempt and a brothel,’

but he got himself out of trouble and the Merc.

Out of sight, out of mind and change for the phone

we’d got behind with the rent and the sofa

between a rock and a hard place and the window and door.

Outside of our troubles and flat was a doorman

who wrestled with guilt and intruders most nights.

At last, on top of our game and the staircase,

we patched things up in a trice and the bedroom.

First published in Reach

Villanelle of Christmas Past

For my mother

The ghost which haunted Scrooge now comes to me

softly shaking gaudy paper chains

and showing scenes that never more can be.

 

At first were six, but soon were only three,

then two, as first. Now only one remains.

The ghost which haunted Scrooge now comes to me

 

Without reproach. I set the young birds free

so I must balance my loss with their gains

and showing scenes that never more can be

 

should not bring sadness. In my memory

my house and heart are full. You haunt in vain,

you ghost who haunted scrooge, now come to me

 

the children of my children, and my tree

is laden with their presence. It disdains

the show of scenes that never more can be.

 

To love and lose is mankind’s destiny

but love is never wasted. Once attained,

oh ghost which haunted Scrooge, it stays with me,

despite the scenes that never more can be.

First published in Ice Blue Mornings, Indigo Dreams Publishing