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UNHEARD SYMPHONY

Approx. reading time: 1 minute

He’d forgotten how to listen. To still his knotted mind until the sounds untangled themselves. Untied one by one from the thrum.

Listened.

Registered. Acknowledged. Understood. Appreciated.

More, much more than mechanical.

No ear drum beat alone. But notes in a symphony. The orchestra all around. Violin, horn, oboe. Dunlin, dawn, crow.

As he listened each sound got louder. Or rather expanded. Until it filled the concert hall of his mind. All other thoughts displaced. The frantic rhythm paced.

He started to cry. Or it started to rain. Perhaps it was both. Tambourine drops rattling the leaf litter at his feet.

Slowly, quietly. Adagio, pianissimo.

Louder, faster, Più forte, accelerando.

Dampened, dying. Smorzando.

Is a sound unheard a sound at all, he wondered?

And in that moment remembered how to listen.

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For the journey

Approx. reading time: 1 minute

He wore the words like a necklace.
Each silent syllable a bead.
Pearl by pearl, a string of unspoken sentences.
His favourite book steepled on a sunken chest.
Treasure without end.
I wonder now what page my mother chose.
What verse she hears that he cannot.
Echoing for eternity.

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Stars

Approx. reading time: 1 minute

While you were sleeping
The Plough cut a furrow across the field of night.
Owls hooted and screeched in it’s wake
Feasting on the shiny seeds of light that Orion cast from the pouch hitched to his rhinestone belt.

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(F)owl play

Approx. reading time: 1 minute

The owls were sated. Full of moles
and torn up scraps of suede-skinned voles.
Plucked from the ground in the dead of night
by the white-winged warrior with the gift of flight.

They didn’t hear the approach of death
for the owl can murder with barely a breath.
That they died in pain is dead cert sure
judging from the splash of crimson gore.

Evidence was plain for all too see:
a furry pellet at the foot of the tree.
If the police were called to solve this crime
they’d have it cracked in double quick time

‘cos all wrapped up in the ball of fluff
inedible bone and incriminating stuff.
The hooded crow would be judge and jury
and vent his spleen with his usual fury.

The surviving mole would give his version
with unassailable assertion.
The verdict was not when it came a surprise
because owl is a creature that others despise.

“I find you guilty and you must hang,”
said crow without an avian pang.
The case made the front of the woodland clarion.
Headline: owl makes tasty carrion.

So remove the pellet from the base of the tree
then the owlets will live to themselves fly free.

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Entwined

Approx. reading time: 1 minute

The snow was mostly gone. But it lingered in the tramlines where tractors had trodden two months earlier. Then the ground was sticky and the tyres left what, from this distance, looked like the parallel prints of a finger painting.

We followed one of the grooves towards a drift of sheep. For the first half-mile they appeared as white woolen flakes sticking together for warmth and huddled against the hedge line for protection from the easterly wind.

But close up they resolved to a slushy grey. Winter coats tie-dyed with a combination of red clay streaks and blue woad farmers’ marks. Worsted darned with threads of bramble from close encounters with the field boundary. A woven landscape of which we were a part. Warp and weft.

Across the valley, behind a curl of woodsmoke, in a patch of the cloth with the sun still on it, the sheep were scattered. Pearls from a broken necklace rolled across a green carpet.

And in the field at our feet a stooped apple was festooned with mistletoe and garlanded with wool. Nature’s Christmas tree for anyone bothering to wait a while. There, under a priceless chandelier of white berries, we kissed.

Hands held. Eyes locked. And in that one moment physical and emotional landscapes entwined.

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Glen Gordon

Approx. reading time: 1 minute

Molecule by molecule the mountain is dismantled by the soft but irresistible rain. The beech tree has snagged a scrap of night in its boughs and is holding it hostage to the day. Black wool on a wire fence stirred by the wind but unable to escape.

The rain cloud necklace will not pull him down. Nor the winds that whip and slap his granite face. But this is demolition on a geological span and the fan of broken rock at the mountain’s foot shows elemental forces cannot be resisted.

A lupin flames and flares among the scree, a terrestrial reminder of the fire below. White splash on silver. A heron patrols the loch. His lonely watch a blink in time. The keys to the glen passed from generation to generation.

The cloud is lifting. Now only cobwebs cling to the valley sides. Rejoice! The mountain top survives.

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EDEN SUN

Approx. reading time: 1 minute

The tree tops are immersed in molten copper. Cast with the the horizontal rays of a dying sun. But the death of day breathes life into the night. And the blue black shadows, born short and shy in the seconds after midday, rush ever faster towards maturity. Across field and valley, through farmyard and village to a vanishing point where, after the pale hours of a summer night, tomorrow will send them into a reverse journey from the infinity of dawn to the oblivion of noon. And where just a second later the cycle will begin again.

But for now the sun has gone and the shadows have melted away like my fair weather cumulous friends and I am left alone in my Garden of Eden.

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Lock up your hens

Approx. reading time: 1 minute

Scary creatures stalk wood, field and heath.
Fox and badger with fearsome teeth.
Death and destruction wherever they pry.
Henhouse, sheepfold, pond and sty.

All is happening while the farmer’s asleep.
Rounding up flocks of imaginary sheep.

And by the time he awakens when the cockerel crows
And the sheepdog is nibbling his corny old toes.
The entrails and bloodshed have been cleaned by the crows.

And a chorus of birdsong replaces the screams.
And the terror of night is consigned to our dreams.

But next time you ponder the moon or a star.
The darkness they lighten is not very far.

So when blackbird sings sweetly from his eventide perch.
And the eastern sky purples with a sun setting lurch.
The song is a warning of dangers to come.
The notes may be gentle but the message is RUN