Ruth Asch – Five Poems
Waking to blackbird song
outside the window:
to overhear a pure heart
on nightingale sounds:
your soul dragged
out into the darkness,
cool fingers thrilling through it
like a harp.
Frayed, cuffs grow denim anemones,
muddied, woolen weed
twirls of thread-vine.
Cloth strata lapped by curl of last-lick wave
emerging from its shell
crooked to grasp
an absent tool.
yet still upturned;
worn with wondering:
an empty cup
Boadilla del Monte
Oxen browsed the gentle slopes,
old cow-herd’s cottage dwarfed by pine
watched over holme-oak studded plain
deserted roman roads….
Nuns came out, to join the beasts
in lovely isolation, built
their stony walls and gracious gates,
their freedom in strict codes.
A palace for a prince came next
in salmon pink to please the gaze
of protégés and peasants who
must be prevailed upon.
Then cottages for pensioners,
and taverns where they pass their time
playing cards and chattering
of what has come, and gone.
Now bricks clamber in tiled cubes;
glassy eyed expand the crowd
hanging out its washing here
to catch the wind’s swift swell.
Dapper magpies clamour. White
storks with long black-fingered wings
wheel languidly in blue above
their country citadel.
Each eve, in stately gaiety,
the pink palace observes the sun
practicing its alchemy
upon a mountain stage.
Below upon the bright fair-ground
the young ones shout and cry and laugh;
do all they can never to think
of loneliness and age.
Impressions of Cornwall
Come night, in dream, I go down westerly –
to where the end of England
breaks into an ocean.
A taste of water permeates the air:
green-smooth from plants cascading slopes,
tanged with salt blown from the sea.
I walk tree-rooted lanes,
through the cool dark boulders
soft fuzzed with bottle-coloured moss;
hundreds of precisely spiraled snailshells –
cream and burgundy striped spools
or mud-brown, lumbering
their way though some short years
on stones which might have couched here
since St Pirran.
Mute my tread to listen
for long grasses parting.
Coastland paths have ground their way
deeper by the centuries’ footstepping
– between village and a shrine;
the cliff-top and the sea.
Like veins within the land they run
carrying us home
to freedom found in wings of saline wind atop a hill;
to an ancient, tiny chapel of worn stone
full of the scent of years,
vibrant with a glow of the unseen;
to hear the enigmatic voice
of tireless waves
castigate the crags,
whisper to the silk and grit of sand
lies, thin coverlet of rock
upon its slumber, nose to sea.
Gulls scream lustily across the blasts
which scoop them up
and hurl them at the clouds –
then slip and dive
to fish-rich turbulence below.
In a black cauldron
of sea-hollowed cliffs
the white birds drift
above a seething potion,
One road climbs
a savage promontory
where grey castle proudly stood –
there now remain:
particles of walls,
grass which grows, dies, grows unnoticeably;
flimsy petals moon-bright,
on wiry stems dancing in wild wind.
There come and go:
of new guests at King Arthur’s court;
wanderers ventured awhile
into breath-taking space –
to see if there is anything in inside them…
and the water slowly turning –
liquid lulling, vapour rising, liquid falling
vapour rising in the sun-shine
Only what is wanted.
Round rhythm is wanted,
and beauty is wanted
on the rise of beatitude,
or among the ubiquitous grey.
My pebbles of poems have scattered and lined
a tedious path…
But enter the portal
of castle, of cottage:
stones which are rich to the eyes of a child
are gathered and swept away.
Only what is needed. –
The prophet is sought for,
the singer desired
by wandering hearts of the people,
Divinity’s word on its way.
Murmur a melody, daydream and hum –
in a little garden –
but cross a thresh-hold
into the wide world:
let your words fade, the notes fall;
put down your pipe of clay.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
Once and throughout time, there are two benevolent rulers, a King and a Queen, who are Good, and they conceive and bear a child: Beauty… But their daughter is lured away from her parents (despite their precautions), and put to sleep, by a spell of Evil. She becomes unaware of who she is, unable to grow, or exercise her authority. Yet so enchanting is she, so terrible her absence, that many people with eyes only for her, sink into a dark sleep too. A valiant prince, her intended partner – Truth – comes to seek her, but must face and defeat painful, fearsome difficulty and evil to win her. Only once woken by the kiss of Truth and matched with him can Beauty come into its own, mature, flourish and command, with authority Divine.
Ruth Asch is a writer of poetry and short, creative prose, whose work is found in numerous anthologies, literary journals and magazines in print and online, such as Poetry Repairs, Ghazal Page, Mediterranean Poetry, Piltdown Review, or The Forgotten and Fantastical. She lives in Preston, Lancashire, with her husband and five children, and does a little teaching.