Two Poems by Penny Boxall

Hawthornden8

Just back from Hawthornden, where I spent a month writing and painting watercolours. And here are two poems by Penny – who was also a fellow, one for Jean Findlay – who plays the bagpipes – and one for me, celebrating a walk we took up the glen (it is more of a ravine) leading one up to nearby Rosslyn Castle.

THE MUSICIANS

(‘Preserve Harmony’)

 

for Jean

 

The pipes have fainted – all limp neck

and stomach, the air knocked out of them.

You pick them up; they loll.

It does not look promising.

Unfussed, you settle them and start

bestowing mouth-to-mouth although

they’ve never lived. Notwithstanding,

spines bristle and resuscitate.

Launching is the trick: a bid for balance

among chancy toots and goose-chase spurts.

You bloat the bag with your latest lungful,

prompting with a good sharp nudge.

The pipes agree an open span which could mean anything –

in itself glad nor glum, but compatible with both.

The tune’s your call. You’ve got the edge;

we’re asking you to fill in all the blanks.

 

THE MASONS

(‘God is our Guide’)

 

for Anthony

 

The river’s cut these rocks out by degrees –

slowly, over centuries. We cannot fathom this.

 

The path flirts hard with the edge,

tempting fate. We wish it wouldn’t.

 

It’s disguised with beech leaves

like a wealth of unearthed coins.

 

The horizon tumbles with loose stones

down the ravine; the water, below, repeats itself.

 

You sketch. I sit and eat a chilly lunch

overlooking that big nothing, not thinking much.

 

Round the corner we encounter a couple –

outdoorsy types in defining black, like spies.

 

He’s urging her onto a sublime ledge,

an empty niche above the nerveless drop.

 

We could be witnessing a betrothal

or a murder. If one precludes the other.

 

He squares himself to the terrible view;

she squats, not looking. She’s inches from the brink.

 

He holds the camera high to get the shot.

I wonder what they’ll find in future

 

to hold over each other – a lie, perhaps, or

thoughtlessness – and whether that will feel at all like this.

*

 

Penny’s book Ship of the Line is published by Eyewear

41VfHrSuP+L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1908998210/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?smid=A2BC3KUVLN8OFJ&psc=1

 

About anthonyhowelljournal

Poet, essayist, dancer, performance artist....
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