The Dusk Of The Evening
He sat all alone at home in his small cottage which nestled at the edge of the woods, close by the stream that flowed from the hills and which gently refreshed the air all around as it spilled over a small cascading waterfall. The trees and shrubs in the woods, of course, were also a safe home to many of the creatures of the daytime (and the night) that were ever such a comfort to him for he loved to see and listen to them busily getting on with their day. Some of them were shy souls and so, therefore, they timidly buried themselves away when they sensed that man walked among them. Nevertheless, he was still gratefully aware of their presence. That very week, I suppose, presented a special time in his life as he had almost reached the age of seventy long years ~ 'Three score years and ten', so said Moses. Most of his adult life he had spent alone ~ living alone and, through the dark hours of the night, sleeping alone. Well; When I say alone, he was never really quite alone as he had his wild animal friends and, over the years, he had enjoyed the companionship of his beloved dogs. They could laze together in the evening by the dancing flames of the cottage fire and all would be well with them.
This particular late autumn afternoon, as he leaned back in his comfortable easy chair by the window, he nonchalantly gazed out over the beauty of his surroundings and fondly reminisced. He smiled to himself as he recalled this and that, chapters of his past, the very thought of which warmed him, especially so as a rainstorm had recently invited itself to the hills and pastures neighbouring his upland dwelling. The harsh wind unkindly rattled the the tiny cottage windows and trickling water teamed down from a breach in the rusty gale weathered guttering channels of the low roof. Where had all those years gone? Dissolved into the mysterious wonderment of the legend which forms the chronicle of a person's lifetime? Random fragments of the crimson blur of his memory began to transform themselves into clear images of sweet times long ago as he slowly, ever so slowly, drifted out to sea on a tide of his own antiquity.
There was he, a child once more. How happy those days were, living in the English countryside and learning of the things and ways of English country folk. Or making his way to the small village school with a brass bell calling out its 'Come on! come on!' to signal the beginning of lessons. On the leisurely walk home, he would pluck berries and flowers, all the gifts that nature had provided for those who were humble enough to accept and be grateful for them. He thought of how he relished the enjoyment when, after his mother had set the large pinewood table and expertly laid upon it a wholesome and scrumptious meal, he had eagerly sprinted the short distance to the nearby farm. There he was entrusted with some of the tasks which contributed to the daily tending of the fields and meadows that yielded the bounty of the land ~ an important and responsible part to play, of course, for a small boy. He remembered how, as part of his reward for the lending of his clever young hands, he was often allowed to ride one of the horses, those most majestic of creatures whose descendants of their successors still provide him with a lively gallop in the hills every now and again. Ahhh; Yes, those were good days, very good days.
When all of a sudden, in the storm, there was a sharp flash of lightening followed by a loud clap of thunder which filled the air about and cut short his childhood daydreaming (as thunder often does) and so turning his thoughts to his tentative teenage years. He wondered if it was always so difficult for someone to grow up. He laughed out loud as he remembered his first job working in a textile mill and not really seeing the light of day between arriving there in the early morning and going home at twilight. However, the mill work payed better than farm work so it was tolerated for a while. But by the time he was eighteen years old he had lost both of his parents. The family cottage which had been handed down to his father from his grandfather had now been inherited by himself. And so began his long semi-solitary private existence. Yes, he had friends and went out to the inns and taverns with them but at the end of the day he always returned home to the draughty echo of a hollow house.
Then he chilled as he remembered her, seeing her face in the flames of the fire he had built in the iron grate to warm himself. She had been his friend ever since school and as they grew older, she, quite naturally, became his sweetheart. She was as bright as the sunrise which he had, for all those years, often witnessed gingerly ascending over the eastern hilltops to illuminate the day. She was the only girl he had ever really spoken to for long conversations and she soon became his whole world. He remembered once upon a time on an unforgiving winter's day, much more ruthless than today, when she visited the cottage and had arrived there cold, wet, and with her small delicate feet almost frozen to the ground. It was like the gateway to heaven for her when she, at last, stepped over the threshold and into the welcoming glow of the house with its blazing fire and the shrill whistle of the steaming kettle on the stove. She happily spent the rest of the afternoon there, by that crackling fire, listening to the howling wind play chimney tunes as it raced above the rooftop, until she made her way home again in the evening ~ but alas no, that's not exactly how it happened ~ she stayed until the next morning. They had enjoyed each other's company as adults for a little more than a year and then, as surely as the warm springtime sunshine melts the cold winter snow, she was gone. Where she had vanished to he did not know although, as time passed by, he heard that she had married and lived in a different village. He forgot about her, more or less, and lived his life with the birds and animals that trusted him so and visited him in his garden each day. Until the day when, years after, the ever-gossiping postman came with the mail one dismal morning. He learned that recently she had been taken ill and had passed away at just forty-two years old. He had sat inside his cottage throughout that night and wistfully reminisced, as he did today, until his weariness and forlorn sadness overtook him and he had slept.
At last reality revisited him and, as his observant country dweller's eyes peered out of the window, he saw that the storm had faded away. All was calm and serene outside with the last of the day's sunshine warming the earth a little causing it to be dry. It was then when a wild notion entered his head and would not leave him be, he who had been the master of his own destiny for so many years. He dressed himself in his finest outdoor clothes, shoeshined up his light brown boots, carefully adjusted his favourite cap in the scratchy mirror on the wall above the fireplace and set out for a village, not too far away, to seek out and discover the place where she, that smiling she of long ago, now rested for all of eternity.
DAUNTED DAY MUSINGS
In every life some rain must fall,
Though wherefrom heaven knows.
With passing years, the storm may call,
The tempest comes and goes.
The day could see a cloudburst hail
To soak you through and through
Yet silver raindrops deftly fail
To bathe away the blue.
As thunder quakes the path of life,
Like cannons in the sky.
And lightning, cutting like a knife,
An electric charge on high.
When icy drops sleet all about
And crisis canters near
Then windy blows that scream and shout
Bombard the soul with fear.
So now I'm old, though seldom sad,
I think of days long gone.
I smile about the good and bad
And savour everyone.
Although the darkened clouds may drift
And bluster out their rains
I still salute a special gift ~
The sunshine here remains.
COSY, SNUG AND WARM
Come call on me this roaring day
When bluster chills your face.
And wild wind whirls the leaves astray
As here and there they chase.
When frosty footsteps tell your toes
The autumn flush has fled;
And icy bristles brush your nose
And whistle past your head.
Step inside and latch the door
And by the blazing sit;
Seat you on the oaken floor
Where flaming flickers flit.
Partake a draught of honey tea
And drink it deep inside
Then in the quiet, here with me,
Be still and with me bide.
Lay your head upon my breast
This winter afternoon;
As the wind blows from the west
To chant a chimney tune.
Outside the window oak trees creak,
When naked willows weep;
Bestow your hair spill o'er my cheek
And close your eyes in sleep.
THE DUSK OF THE EVENING
Alone in the dusk of the evening
As moonlight spills over the hill.
As it shows through the elms
The light overwhelms
And splashes the ground in the still.
The air all about feels so soothing
It kisses my face, drifting by.
And in spite of a storm
The night is quite warm
And the dank of the day is now dry.
The noise of the silence deceives me
I listen to something I know.
A half beat apart
The pulse of my heart
Has fainted to andante slow.
Alone in a countryside churchyard
I, 'twixt the ghosts of the past.
I search for a while
Yet forefeel myself smile
Now, as I find her at last.
I kneel in the moonlight of evening
Where soblets, like diamonds, blaze bright.
As sparkles they make,
As memories awake,
Here in the dusk of the night.