Chris Hardy – Five Poems


 

Happy Returns

Music stretches across the bay,
sad, angry, lascivious.
Small fish come to the bread
as a fisherman prepares his hook.

Let us sit here for a while,
drink a toast to it all so far
even though it’s gone
and was unnoticed when it happened.

The ocean of time vanishes
as if it isn’t there.
Perhaps it isn’t,
look at your hand, hear her voice,

though she’s reminiscing
and in my hand’s the bill.
As we walk home the street lamps
are the only stars we know.

The door appears, then the key
finds the lock.
Right there on the doorstep
we listen to what we are,

press a switch and flood the house
with a waterfall of light,
like waking by the sea
with the sun fully risen.

Its bright grip holds the water
and grey mountains still.
One thought or recollection and a wave
wipes its eyelid along the beach,

the mountain loses a millimetre of dust,
as the wind from the north
which blows all summer once the heat sets in
slows the boats trying to return

after being out all night
searching for a catch that
will pay the price for living
one more day.


Rare

 

Humiliated behind glass
black, point nosed
Beluga Sturgeon,
float on a terrace.

After the seminar
astronomers eat salad,
watch stars flick on.

I too am interested
in the Universe
but cannot see past

the cook picking up a glove
as grills glow red
in expectation.

*

If we leave now
we’ll reach the sea
tomorrow,

gathered above
a deep blue gulf,
where nothing swims

except ourselves
stick limbed
in the light filled surface

looking down,
and wondering
if what we do not know
is there.


Naming the Rain

 

We can walk, then climb that last bit.
Orchids fill the meadows.
I am breathless at the top,
though it is not high,
but recover instantly.
The plain is green, purple,
yellow, white,
beneath a hurrying sky.

I have a name for this place,
and know where the wind,
scattering drops of rain
with a red speck of sand
inside each, like an ant
in amber on my shoes,
comes from. Somewhere else
in this world.


Pentecost

 

Straw hatted Grandmas float,
petticoats like jellyfish
bubbling round their shoulders,
amongst screaming children.
Two lovers splash each other
in the shallows before drifting
further out.
The sun’s heat
whitens their hair.
Today is a holiday for everyone,
green and orange kayaks skim
across the surface.

A few of the million pebbles
shining along the water’s edge
are flawless circles, ovals, hearts,
but most are not.
Before I throw one back
into the sea that spends its time
fashioning these jewels
I realise I am the first
to touch it
with clever human fingers
feeling for imperfection,
and raise it in the light
to judge its shape
against creation.


Family Communion

 

From the mountain the plain opens south
between long ridges that reach out
to the horizon, enclosing a wide gulf
in which the ships anchor
and from where they leave.

As the last pennant drops below earth’s rim
the women, children, older men
step from the quay, built of blocks cut
from the hills to hold back the sea,
and walk into the fields.

The fleet moves away like a moon from its orbit
to where the ocean ends, a place
that will make children forget the men who left,
who will build a city from which
their sons will sail.

*

Catching a morning breeze they steer towards
the deep bay and a white stone quay,
rippling with the waves’ reflections in the sun.
The people who wait for ropes to be thrown
hear accents that also bind

to their questions and replies.
Sailors buy grapes from a girl,
eyes mirror eyes as tongues confer,
a mist of intimations that will pool,
form clouds of words and fall like rain.

Behind the port water flows
between the trees and
spills out over the ground
planted with silver olives,
vines and grain.


 

Author’s Statement on Beauty

‘She walks in beauty, like the night ..’ (Byron) means, to me, her beauty creates an atmosphere that spreads out from her like a perfume. ‘Like the night’ suggests what the nature of her beauty is – dark, powerful, mysterious, seductive. But it also requires the reader to feel that the night is beautiful, and this illustrates how beauty is a term describing a feeling, a subjective, human response, because we do not all agree, all the time, that night is beautiful: it can be ugly and terrifying.

If you say the night, or a woman, is beautiful you mean more than ‘attractive’ or ‘appealing’. Beauty contains those concepts but is deeper and wider. Something that is beautiful is mesmerising, inspiring an emotional response that leads to reflection and even revelation. There can be no scientific description of what the word beauty means because it is not a factual object like carbon or a tree. But when we say a tree is beautiful we mean it adds to our experience of life. It decorates the world but also makes us understand and feel the world more deeply – the incredible nature of existence: this living being is more complex , wonderful and beautiful than anything a human can make – it’s been here hundreds of years; it’s alive which means it is part of the energy or even consciousness of existence; it’s a tracery of light green and brown against the blue Spring sky. Then someone else sees it and thinks, ‘That long branch would make a fine, polished table ..’

LIKE THE SUN

What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
Do not include women, men, pictures,
only the world as it makes itself,
perhaps with some interference –
a town, a road, a port maybe.

When I ask myself that question
I think of mountains, coasts, the sea,
and try to remember and compare.
There are many possibilities but
it is what is in each scene
that is the same
which makes me choose it.

The warmth and clarity of evening light
behind peaks,
which blends the great sides
into a wall of soft grey mist,
and the sharp sense that this day too
is finished.

The sweet and bitter fruit,
soft then lethal, like the sun,
that we all must eat.


 

Chris Hardy has lived in Asia and Africa and now lives in London, UK. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, and websites in the UK and elsewhere, including Poetry Review, the Rialto, Interpreter’s House and the North. They have won prizes in the English National Poetry Society’s, and other, competitions. His fourth collection will be published in 2017.  Hardy is in LiTTLe MACHiNe (little-machine.com) performing settings of famous poems at literary events around the UK and abroad.