Ruth Asch – Five Poems


Waking to blackbird song                   
outside the window: 
to overhear a pure heart
singing unobserved.

Drifting away
on nightingale sounds:                        
your soul dragged
out into the darkness,
cool fingers thrilling through it
like a harp.

A Study

Frayed, cuffs grow denim anemones,     
muddied, woolen weed
twirls of thread-vine.
Cloth strata lapped by curl of last-lick wave
The hand
emerging from its shell    
dust-coarsened grime-rimmed,  
crooked to grasp                                
an absent tool.
yet still upturned;                
worn with wondering: 
an empty cup
for hope. 

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
grazing velvet
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                
an unchanging,
fresh mystery.                                                  

A dragon 
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 
and plummets
a savage promontory
where grey castle proudly stood – 

there now remain:
particles of walls,
grass which grows, dies, grows unnoticeably;
and sea-campion 
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
towards eternity. 

Moving On

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.

Goodness is continually engendering beauty, but seems unable to keep it safe, or even resuscitate it once it is lost. Truth fights to set beauty free. An artist must follow Truth to reach it… must struggle through, but not get trapped in, the snares of pain, and wickedness, to bring Beauty to life in their work.

There are no short cuts to real, living Beauty in this world. Compared to Beauty, there is nothing so helpless, or so powerful.


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.