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
I took my camera into the fields
sooner; / and later

Around the Country Cottage
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



I took my camera into the fields

but it was only after the
purple-grey clouds drifted
across the horizon and the

wilted leaves had turned
their face once more to the
evening sky, when the sun

broke low across the fields –
old gold across the treetops –
that I’d dansed macabre

with the tripodial skeleton
before the red hemisphere,
reclined upon distant hills,

extinguished like a farce
and the populace of the
heavens radiated above me

and behind, the grates of
all space between the two
sentinel elms, it was there, I think,

I left this planet
at a tangent (glow of a
lantern disappearing down the corridor)

deep, until whole nebulae
were within my pluck,
but even before Antares

had touched the nearby
spire, the nightingale had
been deep in construction

of the following day’s forest façade,
free free of all possible words and
zoomed foci





occasional sun broke through
splashed watery light on the road

on the bridge gazing on the waters
the flow      caught the eye upwards

while the music scented of
mist through the trees

(grey light and silver hung
without movement in

folds) until
raindrops drummed upon our capes;

and later – jotting

in the note-book – each blade of grass
suspending a drop

(pearls waiting on the
clothes-line for the starling’s quickfeet),

then, when
my sleeve touched a leaf

and three drops merged and rolled down
into the soil down

through the years, there where
clouds draw scent from the land, there,

when a spark of light jabbed
into my eye

bright as solid substance cupped
within a lupin leaf





we were evacuated during the war
from London to the Rhonda Valley
it was dark when we arrived

the sound of rocks woke me in the morning
I hadn’t heard them before
in such numbers

I looked at the strip of sky between the curtains
while my brother slept
a small cross a wooden chest minutes

ticked …
until he moved eyes already open
then two faces at the window gaping at bare hills

and one house
with three ponies in the paddock manes in the sun;
downhill was a black tower holding enormous wheels black

and then cables down to
a blacked hut and trucks and shacks dotted everywhere black
save the rail lines; shuntings

between the constant hisss, psssh
hooves in the street below pulling a float
‘<em>cark</em>’ of rooks above;

in time
doors opened: crystal streams before
racing the bracken which dipped and waved out to the next horizons




                                lost candle holders
                mother of pearl flower centres

                                upright for £6
                polished, tuned just before the war

                                new chords,
                putting the cat up on the keyboard

                                humming interior,
                green-felt arpeggios rising to apogee –

                                sitar strings –
                it cannot last much longer now,

                                turned to the
                walnut altar: evenings of war in London

                                the ceiling
                fell on it more than once with



























1 thought on “Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters]”

  1. Mark, I like what you have done here, among others, these words struck me…

    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;


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