There is a Flower, the Lesser Celandine, That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain; And, the first moment that the sun may shine, Bright as the sun himself, ’tis out again! (Wordsworth)
This is a stream a rivulet a brook a burn on whose banks you’ll find
the lesser celandine figwort ficaria ranunculus a favourite of both William Wordsworth and David Herbert Lawrence
and ferns pillwort pteridophytes osmundas which purify the soil cure centipede bites soothe coughs and wheezes
and foxgloves dead men’s bells digitalis purpuria floppy dock fairy fingers which are diuretics appetite depressants cures for dropsy and can by s l o w i n g down
t h e heart r a t e c u r e o r k i l l .
* * * *
She found the celandines of February Always before us all. Her nature and name Were like those flowers, and now immediately For a short swift eternity back she came.
I feel the continental drift of shifting geography: the sun no longer overhead; an unfamiliar sea; a jagged barrier reef surrounds an inaccesible shore and ice – how thick I do not know – where water was before.
Where is that quiet green valley where heron and kingfisher flew? A ridge of stone as bare as bone blocks it from my view.
A flat and recent Sahara covers remembered hills and over the top of my childhood home the lurid lava spills.
Where is my big-windowed, happy house? Where my tall green wood? All I see now is a dark smoking scar where home and forest once stood and a sea of mud the colour of blood was a lake where white lillies grew; volcanic and strange, a mountain range bleeds over fields I once knew
No feral forces fed those fires to sweep my past away; no howling hurricanes spread the flames to make night as bright as day.
No irresistible seismic thrust pushed up that massive range.
Some weakness at the heart of things permitted all this change.
That’s my wife suitably all in black at the top of the stairs in the snow. We have come from the graveyard where her mother is buried, our first visit since the funeral some twenty years ago. Time flies, tempus fugit, no matter how you say it.
However we are happy enough to be here happy enough to be anywhere in fact extinct volcanoes maybe, but still together, survivors, a winter couple.
I go on chatting although I no longer have anything I want to say to her and she nods and smiles as if she hadn’t stopped listening aeons and aeons ago but we are still there (here?) for each other, if required.
I remember taking these pictures,
the silence, the strange, lurid light, my wife in black with that yellow umbrella and the snow falling gently in large white flakes faintly falling through the universe, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.