First Light

When we were young, my lovely,
When the light looked over our trees,
Each day in the valley was sun-up,
A white blossom for the black honey-bees.

Or frost in gold October
Our old heron creaked up the stream,
A smile for the three old chinamen
Locked into our ageless dream.

We’d sit easy with death at table,
My skeleton key in the glass,
And whichever name he whispered
We’d both wait for the shiver to pass.

One day comes icy December
I see your hair turn grey,
Cold light on the kitchen table
Where the snowdrop petals lay.

For nights the stream stands frozen,
Our oakwood is stripped to the bone –
Just one of us stirs from the table,
It’s death checking out of our home.

I looked but I couldn’t find you
Then full-moon, the first summer breeze,
Came running through our garden
A white blossom for the black honey-bees.

Winter nights when our heron creaks over
We’ll let the sand-glass run
To a blizzard of white cherry blossom
That melts in the morning sun.

from 100 Poems (Revised edition, The Write Factor, 2012), © John Moat 1998, used by permission of the author

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