Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Exmoor Valley's Answer

This valley, brilliant now in May sunshine
has raised generation after generation
of sturdy children, knowledgeable of
what is to be ate, and what is not.

Strong-legged along old winding lanes
each with some favourite corner
where in one bright and drowsy afternoon
Nature strikes their heart, and theirs alone

as one leaf, one stone,
one flashing grain of silica
captures their mind
anchors it in the One

until, unless they die, they grow to lusty adulthood
and chase and kiss and marry and
raise more, all feeding off
the soft rich valley soil

that's still there, thinner now maybe
maybe the buds and butterflies are less
and more and more needs feeding to the soil
to win the food, but still

Wave after wave; young, parents, old
and passed away. The rich green valley
churns them steadily; they're good folk
hard-working for their food, they dance and sing.

And every few years, the military come
and tell their stories, show off their uniforms
and spirit away, playing their pipes and drums,
some young men to the wars.

A few come back, that long look in their eyes
that absence; others more clearly missing
and arm, a leg, and eye, a mind.
Others do come back never.

They leave a dank cold shadow across their lover's life
someone who might have been; a husband,
one who does not flare up in nightmares
doesn't lash out for no good reason

one who was taken by the wars
and there are hot dark tears
and sadness clothes a young maid's life
and anger, always at the back

deep and unspoken. 'Why did he have to go and die?'
and always that wave of common sense,
chorus of voices everywhere
'There always will be wars'

Tearing at her still persistent inner voice
Why did he have to go and die?
And still the valley says
“I'll raise your young, over and over, wave after wave

I'll give enough for you to eat,
and what's left over, goes to market.
Won't that do for an answer?”

Maybe not

Richard Lawson
Exmoor 12/05/15

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