The tide that started flowing
all those endless years ago
has eddied round
and doubled back,
has shadowed our diverging tracks
and monitored their going.
It sidles in and splashes at our feet
leaving us very little common ground
for if and when we try to meet.
Every step is to
(or away from)
the Light that is in you
to care for or stray from.
He sees the dead blackbird at his feet
but not the dead cow on his plate.
Now that he has two new hips
he paints the outside of sailing ships
and though he still has both his knees
he paints the outside of the woodlands
and the outside of their trees.
Tuscany, Marseille, Toulon,
Harlem, Dorset, Rouen.
The Piper leads the children
under the hand-painted hill
to show it’s there and outside
and real and what they see;
and it helps to stop the doubt slide
in, that it’s no more real than you and me.
The watercolour master
gets more from just one sale
than Van Gogh from a lifetime
of lifting the Painted Veil.
Everywhere they hang and sell
to outward-looking eyes
who must most desperately believe
that what they see is really there.
Van Gogh, too, painted nature
showed the nerves beneath her skin
and sketched with loving sympathy
her agony within.
Slow trains to Arles were his escapes
to sunflowers, absinthe, opium and sin.
Here, the Euro Express goes racing by
to bright but fading landscapes
for that keen but dimming eye.
(Poem from OXFORD BLUES)