Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters]

Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters] by Mark L. Redfordboth Appendiary and Appliquiary to The Boats of Vallisneria by Michael J. Redford


—~~~\___ “O” ___/~~~—



(prependiary by Mark L. Redford)


The Wandering Mind
the soft canticle of the gourds
from arm to nature, doing nothing

gull circling out at sea
I suddenly / remembered

… as the new town marches in
agricultural show

old George
both fawn and grey

Out of Doors
pageant of the trees
The Valley

Around the Country Cottage
An Old Piano
The English Lawn

Going Back
Distant Journeys
The Breath of Memory
The Golden Hour





I have come into possession of a piece of work that my Uncle Mick did during the 1960s.   He was in his thirties when he wrote the ‘Boats of Vallisneria’ having survived a childhood of war and evacuation, having completed what education was available then, having completed a period of military service in Kenya and South Africa and returned to London, to move to Billericay in Essex, to begin his life proper.   His father (my grandfather) died early in the 60s and he spent the rest of his life living with and looking after his mother living in the tied cottage to the farm he worked.

He completed this work because he wanted to explore the shape and pattern of [his] life.   He completed it even while the changes in farming brought his work there to a close.   [He went on to become a gardener and eventually set up his own business framing pictures].   He submitted the manuscript to Dent & Sons for publication, but they declined.

He let me have a look at the script when I was in my late teens and visiting and whinnying on about wanting to be a writer.   This was in the later 1970s.   I was way too green and cursive to read it with great discernment or generosity and commented that it was OK but quite amateurish (a youthful candour with which I hurt many a person close to me when I was young and arrogant – I’m sorry, everyone).

The dear man died in 2007, and I had long since forgotten his work (although I remember being honoured that he had shown me his work – it confirmed to me that being a writer was a noble thing to be).   I had a visit recently from my brother who brought a whole case of artefacts from my uncle, one of which was the original manuscript.

… I think I’d like to publish it on my blog.   Share the work with the world that he was not so able to do during his own time.   In his honour.   In memoriam.   To preserve and celebrate the green-paint-on-sturdy-wood life of Ramsden Heath during the 1960s and 1970s.   To celebrate the linen-atmosphere of small-pane cottage window looking out on the garden in all facet.   To listen in on the darken-colours of morning and evening and bird-call in Essex countryside, every one different and newly-miraculous found.

While typing it up I felt I could tap the kernel of what he was exploring and cut in to his images and experiences within – and sometimes behind – his writing.   I would also like to explore his writing through my own.   And publish them alongside each other like a healthy pair of framed pictures above the mantelpiece.   To celebrate my love for him.   And make the contact with him that I was too gauche to make while he was alive.   (How much I appreciate people the most, once I have lost life with them).

How to entitle this?   I don’t want to detract or take over from Mick’s work.   I want to supplement it; I want to stand alongside it – a cross-generational accompaniment, basso and contralto.   My work would not have happened without his, for certain.   But nevertheless it adds to, or brings into clearer relief facets of, his work.

‘Supplement’, ‘Companion’, ‘Rereader’, ‘Poeview’?   Do I use his title, or do I conceive my own or adapt it?   Why am I not clear having already started the work?     Appendiary?     Appliquiary?     Boatiary?     Vallisneriary?     And then it came to me … of course!

Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters] by Mark L. Redfordboth Appendiary and Appliqiary to The Boats of Vallisneria, by Michael J. Redford





                                filigree roots dissimulate the soil
                                at the bottom of shallow waters
                                (like a diagram – no contact, with
                                 sheath of border); a stalk will grow

                                through water, sure twists towards
                                the light; on the surface petals will
                                open wide without shame and wait
                                for the floret to rise from the bract

                                then release just three boats for to
                                float the potent cargo where the
                                movement of water will hazard the
                                inexorable kiss; but there is no

                                morphology or physiology of
                                vallisneria, only certain quest from
                                darkness to light, and the surface-
                                knowledge retrieved back; I am

                                a Londoner born through war to
                                work the land to look for pattern in
                                life to make, trusting it is there to
                                swim through, but lost in currents

                                to and `fro with only adventitious
                                and god-like perspective when I
                                contemplate in four-line stanza …





                young wheat and emerald, in sese vertitur annus,
                reading an old poet in the garden, the sky is clear as face –

                                I had mown the lawn that morning just before lunch
                                and turned over the plot where the peas had been cleared –

                                                              on the steep hill opposite a horse pulled forward from a plough
                                                              moving slowly towards the skyline, jingle of the traces,

                                the book fell, the starlings flew, suddenly, I came awake
                                as the plough turned the field and spark of sunlight leapt,

                shoulder to mine eye, while the earth lay opened and dark-folded;
                                              (visitors had arrived, in quietude, invasion of linyphiids,

                                                              a thin gossamer between ridges – lapping under the sun –
                                                              bristles of random colour, a hundred yards long

                                                              and twenty inches wide and bare of future gold);
                                among the nemesia the book is retrieved, many lives

                                              will be lost, just enough will be saved, restless; this is
                                              thistle-down upon the air, here are crackle and pop

                                                                                 beneath the sky; the tree tops will be dipped in
                                                                                 old gold, and the swallows will be off for Africa




a bowl of gourds on the dark-wood table
before the window before the paddock to the
piggery, unadorned, and cultivated through
chance and heel, forgotten beside the trellis;

a bowl of colour and varied shape: Bishop’s
Mitre, Red Turk’s Cap; one looks like the
old orange toad who lives behind the
water butt and likes to be called Bebe;

but the Montgolfiere balloon of yellow
and green took me up through slated
cloud in 1783 from the Bois de Boulogne,
so came the silence on the way to the stars

such a time away at ions of eyes per hour,
rivulets in tributary down the inside of the
flask by letter and equation far beyond my
jiggery and pokery, round ticket through

time …   I breathed in back from the mass
so distant that its light would never return,
back in through milky way and system,
faster than any quantum of backward light,

back past giants and Mars, back into
Earth’s sweet atmosphere and the waiting
bowl brimming with the circles and undulate
trajectory of every plot surmised beyond

my paned windows; where meadow fescue
curves like blackened oak and manual
labour, abhorrent of vacuum and straightened
line (those harbingers of discontinuance):

they almost screamed at me, “This is now,
this is NOW;” mind confined by time grades
eternity by linear thought which always
misses the soft canticle of the gourds:

                                                                      “So man, upon his world so great
                                                                      Has always wanted to create
                                                                      Machines which, started once will never
                                                                      Cease but carry on for ever.

                                                                      Yet all the time O foolish man,
                                                                      You’re merely part of that great plan,
                                                                      A tiny part, hast thou not seen
                                                                      This wondrous universe machine?

                                                                      This motion so perpetual
                                                                      Is the universe and all
                                                                      That lies beyond in time and space,
                                                                      E’en down to us, the human race.

                                                                      There’ll be no end, there was no start,
                                                                      There is no shape therefore no heart.
                                                                      And to create it doth aspire
                                                                      To use the debris of its ire.

                                                                      Poor mortal look deep in your heart
                                                                      And realise that you’re just a part
                                                                      Of that which knows no boundaries,
                                                                      Heeds not your trivial quandaries.

                                                                      Servants of the cosmos vow
                                                                      To play your part and take your bow,
                                                                      Or servants you will always be –
                                                                      Until you die, ‘tis then you’re free.”





                when the day is done and the green is brown
                and shadow is the deeper purple, and when
                the earth gives up its warmth to the stars, I
                walked one evening, direction of Jupiter to the
                darkening east, while the nightjar echoed empty fields

                I stood where smaller noises become: dusk
                to night, the tethered bull, the calf’s raised head,
                the creaking elms, whispers above, stems below,
                depths of space; silence; was it Selene within
                the lap of dusk or the white barn owl, that

                blackened or, then, silver-plated, the night
                with a quietude that freed me from the tired eyes
                of day to reverie while the planet turned; morning –
                it is half past five when I start the milking,
                I arrive beforehand with the spaciousness of valley

                where breezes end and leaves are still and
                no longer conscious of breath and vale; a thought
                is born, from one come two, coruscating within
                seconds, each one nearer to the vertex of
                ultimate truth; the stars in their patterns

                out of time; questions asked and answered at
                accelerating rate, brutal logic ceding to the
                preceding cause – reversal of effect; but the pace
                is too much, I flounder and sink as I lose
                momentum; but I have brushed the grey curtain

                aside and my cup runneth over as the Left hand
                lifts the veil on the eastern horizon we are reborn
                with the stripling day; no energy lost, just changed;
                the air is scented green along the unused road,
                within a mother’s arms again




                ‘when’s uncle coming back?’ tin-
                enamel ‘he’ll be back soon; run

                along now’ plate-shuffling ‘where
                IS Mick, he was going to check
                on something …’ cutlery-placed-

                on-wood ‘oh, he’ll be standing
                in a field somewhere, looking …’
                from arm to nature, doing nothing

                I wish I had more time to float
                about on the surface; I made a
                garden seat from the wood

                of an ancient cottage, six hundred
                years old, a daffodil in the breeze,
                the echo mocking the cuckoo

                in the blue shadows, green pasture
                walls of tree acknowledged by
                no conscious thought; lightning,

                magnetism of blackbird commentary,
                the paper I write on through time left
                not empty-handed as the present slips

                                                                                              to the
                                                                                                            dead past




                                Olly was never Alfred
                                with a face like a walnut,
                                eye can do anything
                                called ‘Buttercup Joe’;

                                ‘Give Olly an oller’ would
                                summon a time to ‘set to’
                                in good time and a pipe of herbal
                                sweet as hay; smell afore

                                presence; “kines” f’some
                                “noots”, corduroys and
                                chrysanthemums tall
                                as a fiddle string – mmpph’




                           when I first walked the
                           slippery grass of the Downs
                           I remained at a distance
                           not wishing to intrude

                           during those mornings
                           when each leaf is etched
                           against the motionless air
                           of such blue that his eyes

                           ached to the far edge of
                           the meadow, the furthest
                           he had ever been by himself –
                           new lands of stubble and

                           bale; a cloud of finches
                           rose from the ground at the
                           touch of his material gaze:
                           beauty enriched by solitude;

                           along the headland he saw
                           a tiny mouse disappear as he
                           looked for it, then he rolled
                           on his back, looked through

                           the branches of a beech tree
                           to the depth above, tracing
                           the boughs with his fingers,
                           touch of urgency and echo –

                           gull circling out at sea




                                drift from the land continues
                the prosperous rings expand, there are

                shirts and elbows in the Nag’s Head
                and smoke curling to the gloom above

                Lordly entry to the fields, in the center,
                the last sheaf, left standing; he

                knocks out his pipe on the window sill,
                echoing across still fields; the poem’s

                ‘flames upon the alter’ – energy of the
                sun; strolling through the green evening

                                I suddenly




            there are great mountains of cumulus
            towered above, shadows course over
            grey-yellow stubble, gulls hackle rooks
            in leaning elms while red and black-

            berries hang in the hedgerow … run,
            run downhill, stretch my legs in boundless
            stride, stream through the air from boy
            to man, flood the plain with open memory;

            or maybe: scale a furtive upward glance,
            through boughs of avenue, a third
            dimension, to survey, to just survey all
            the song of all to sing ‘laaaaaark’; but

            I’ll just rest here, now, sit beside the gate
            sit under the signpost, and listen … foliage
            turned dark and almost brown, the earth
            awaits the golden plough while dancing

            rose-hips watch skeins of Friesians
            work meticulous across the skyline and
            … everything will change, piped rippled
            through bygone years – there will be ghosts

            in the ditches, there will be paths adrift
            of leaf, the ivy will reach up from the post
            which points only to the wind now leaving
            autumn mists to drift like webs into the

            corners of paddocks; and there is a strange
            silence in the sky … as the new town marches in






            ruffles beneath the trembling ivy,
            divergent verticals in the hazel coppices;


            reverent steps, and in the cavernous
            grey of high hangs the faintest, pink;


            on a woodland bank a single lesser
            periwinkle holds up a blue flower,

            by the wall a solo leaf descants to the ground
            and a snowflake touches the cheek;


            the black background of the woods
            a million flakes seen,

            in the classroom thirty pairs of eyes
            drift across to the window

            and the music teacher holds
            his sentence;


            leeward black, and fields of white, if
            we were to hate everything that

            included rip and tear of any ugliness,
            there would be nothing left to love;


            through window panes the sun
            is a flat yellow disc viewable

            without hurt to the eye,
            mist divides land into borough

            and alleyway stepping crunch from the
            steam kitchen into the sparkling garden;


            at the bottom of the garden,
            piglets stop snuffling around and stand

            looking, like little pink statues, then …
            hurtle across the yard barking at the sun

            (the sow had rather build her nest in the
             corner of the field, one morning

             she was there, an army of piglets
             lined up at the milk bar

             the most ridiculous expressions
             of content upon their faces, and

             a robin on the solid water
             of the cattle trough);


            the ch-nnk and bite of axe in log
            bounced across the fields to the woods and back with

            such clarity I expected it to continue
            as he laid his axe aside, “Morning”,


            it is not winter that dispels life,
            but life that dispels winter




walter-sidney-redford-the only way to travel


                on Sundays my father downed tools and was
                led by the nose – the Redford bequest –

                drawing us into the quietude of Kent,
                out from the crust of suburbia,

                plunged deepening into green
                carrying bags of sandwiches towards noon;

                when, he would gaze around awhile
                and “let’s try over there” as if he were only

                wondering, “landlord’s name is Bert,”
                he’d trail behind quietly to himself, breathing

                even ghosts in through his live and open nostrils
                (back, even, to the seventeenth century,

                 looking out over the tombstones,
                creaking & checking, drinking, ale); taught me

                to fathom honeysuckle
                on a damp summer’s air carrying far before

                the meet, to flare to the earth
                of a muck heap ‘made’ well, to bask

                and loiter by ammoniac stables
                breathing for to clear the head, to “foller yer nose”

                and find the green bean field –
                cup of sweet wine drunk with intemperance






                agricultural show

                too great a proportion
                of most of our life
                already ordered to us

                neck still sizzling
                from the heat of the
                day, individuals lost

                under endless hats
                fold into dim worlds
                of heaving canvass

                and creaking ropes
                what matter if we cover
                the same ground twice

                a walk of life with fresh
                interest, following
                long abandoned routes




                Dear Pat and John,
                and then the rain came

                for weeks, now, making
                havoc over fields of

                trampled trees and
                drowned sheep; rain

                against the windows
                as I write, rain carried

                on the gale that
                bounds up the valley

                gust over gust up and
                over the leaden hills;

                the window rattles
                a log slips, sparks

                disperse and resettle
                like time; the view

                has changed outside:
                metal beasts across fields

                nodding idiotically, no
                further need of pitchforks

                under the sun, now just
                production, churning

                moral thought to mud,
                no distribution

                where fields of ignorance
                lay; last night

                the engines switched off
                one by one across

                the fields and
                Pegasus shimmered

                gazing long on the
                southern elms

                standing about
                with hands in their pockets

                reaping their own
                and individual harvest




                                old George

                long retired from land, unable to
                keep soil from his boots, continues
                working, earth and life, picking up

                branches and stones; the blades
                cut clean, men in the meadows
                sway to the rhythm of scythes,

                stems fall graceful to swathe and
                green aroma, the diminishing island
                cut to the last, magnified by

                silence, a lark high above the
                dust; the breezes will dry the
                stalks to rustle and the distant

                woods will echo – cuckoo; it is
                then the child places the building
                block on the nursery floor when

                there will be no time, day after
                day, save for forks of pitch and
                hands that burn pink and stalk

                of shirt and sweat, constant under
                minds of approaching storm cloud
                before the last journey home; old

                George had removed his jacket
                picking out fluff from the corners
                of a pocket, “…used to be my brother’s;

                lived in Shropshire … didn’t
                find no pound notes in it, just fluff,
                a few hay seeds,” flung them

                to the Essex wind – scattered
                poems and stacked essays,
                typed up and waiting to behold




                his young head pushed through into a small
                meadow, brown and blue eyes gazed from

                a pitying face fifty feet tall, the chomping
                stopped and she blew violently down her nose:

                we walk the lane behind the herd every morning
                out, every evening home, both fawn and grey





                              not a quiver, in-
                breath, a staccato bark, pink
                     bullets everywhere




                pageant of the trees

                spring’s tonic rising
                and hazel catkins swell
                to greet the first warm days

                elm and alder to follow
                heralding beech and oak
                and later the firs will show

                their new cones, dusting
                the ground with yellow;
                the gardens will fill with

                almond blossom and
                orchards will froth with
                cherry white and apple pink,

                aperitif to coming summer;
                hedgerows become en-veiled
                in diaphanous haze, a

                million leaves on the
                passing breeze; stop
                writing, now, step out

                beneath the cavernous sky,
                deep into the quiet of a glade
                to be silent within silence,

                eyes open like shadows
                in dancing leaves and thoughts
                greener to the underside


                                                gazing between sentences
                                                into the fire

                                                the beam from the
                                                old house burns clear flame,

                                                tinsel murmurings between
                                                the ticking clock,

                                                until pure white ash
                                                falls without sound














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