A SUITE FOR SALLY
“To the sweet shall be rendered The Suite”
Patrick, January 1973
A Birthday Invocation
Often words can confuse us, riding the thought
Rather than pulling its plough;
I wish you not words but whose flower they seek,
Whose root and whose tree and whose bough.
Music I’ll wish you, the grave and the gay,
The trumpet, the cello and the gong,
And the knowing that always I wish you love
As you find and you follow your song.
Homing, in November
Passed, the time of darking birds
wheeling holes in the sky,
gathering momentum, feeling for the recognition
that will lead them
reeling from the hearkening axis,
southward, seaward, sunward,
gaining height, sparkling.
(Of course there are memories to guide,
not only instincts.)
Even memories of moments still awaiting
their fetching into being. No
new bird would be entire a stranger calling
on that land,
alien to the tall hills that stretch
memories of their own
and olive trees widefingering,
ready to harbour birds (and watchful serpents
skidding in the sun, lingering in the dark
where danger dances a deadly saraband).
I walk the crisping golden leaves
with thoughts of journeys I long to take.
With thoughts of you in mind, your face
I follow on journeys I must make
to the Post Office, the supermarket, or
the place I do my making in
treading snakes. Without an arbour or any place
I see to build in.
I follow to my own awakening,
treading dead leaves into the earth,
investing in the coming green,
As I was going to Strawberry Fair
I met a little camel and a big polar bear.
I asked if I could join them
and I promised to be good
but they only laughed and danced a jig
and vanished in a wood.
As I was climbing Chanctonbury Hill
I met an elegant young stork
with a teapot on its bill.
“What ho!” I cried, “let’s dance a jig,
sing merrily on our way”.
But the teapot only flipped its lid,
saying “Thanks, but not today”.
As I was a-walking, all around the town
I met a cat, a water-rat and a King without a crown.
“Would you like some tea?” I quickly asked,
“it’s a very special brew”.
But they dived into a coffee jug
(it was red and cerulean blue).
As I was meandering, down by the sea,
I met a bespectacled sorry dog, as sad as he could be.
“Coffee?” I asked, and sat me down,
“I know of a jug we could try”.
But he wanted no knowing and twirling his specs
turned away with a frown and a sigh.
As I wandered sighing, under the moon
from far away I heard a gay and yet a wistful tune;
a jig, a waltz, a minuet,
a saraband and a hymn
that seemed to come from the general
direction of King’s Lynn.
As I was going to Queen’s Park Road
I sensed a crowd behind me, it seemed like quite a load:
(I turned and saw they all were there
from the teapot to the polar bear)
“What’s this?” I cried “what are you on?
What is all this to do?”
And they said “If you’re going to Sally’s place
then we’re all coming too!”
So, prancing and dancing and singing a song
we merrily wended our way,
the elegant stork and the knife and fork
and the King of Mandalay:
A frog and the dog and the coffee jug,
the camel, a bird and the rat
and all their many acquaintances
-not forgetting the cat.
We jigged and sang
and the bells all rang
to the tune of Jolly Old Pals.
And they told me they’d look out for me
now they know I’m a friend of Sal’s.
Flower in the wilderness, bewildering flower,
moonlit on my counterpane, enlightening
in this hour that’s been for loneliness,
and yearning for the rain
to enter and nourish the starving earth
that green might be here again.
Flowering in the desert land you bring to me a time
when the harsh winds off that barren earth
are tuned to a gentler clime;
a time of trees and scented ease
and birds on the song and the wing.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer – true:
but one spring flower can make the Spring.
I had a frosted nut tree
nothing would it bear
Until a certain Sally came
with her warm and gentle air
I had a tangled garden
that I couldn’t keep in order
Until there came that golden girl
who brought me a recorder.
I had a tower to live in
but I couldn’t find the key:
I only looked out of the windows
until she came to me.
I had a horse named Fortune
and a wheel named Happy Day
But I was riding round in circles
until Sally came my way.
I had a stalwart galleon
-I was the captain and the crew,
But really I was all at sea
till the trade winds brought me you.
Blanched, I watch the glazèd moon
silverly fumble into a tomb of indigo cloud.
My room is extinguished. Gone
the cold fire that branched across my feet
and tumbled to the carpet,
that, fainting, yet lit through the gloom
an echo of piano, painting; humbling
things known – if not distinguished
in this quiescent womb
where, trackless I stumble
through the foothills of sleep.
You have been here at this waking hour
and endowed it twice with your light;
coloring, full filling this place,
the bed, my mind, banishing
all thought of taking journeys into sleep.
-Until that time when, longings blurring,
vanishing as time of our good making allowed
we glided, intertwined, toward the keeping
of sleep’s deep unstirring still of sea
(a swell or eddy in the night)
toward the morning’s golden ball.
The moon sallies clear… and growingly brings back
the substance of the shadowmaker, retrieves
a dear flower on the counterpane, and soon it shows me
a track that is winding a way through the hills
to the glow of the woods
that skirt the water’s edge I lack.
Now, I’ll go finding in the flowing tide
where nightbirds knowingly call your face
and wing your name
and sing you to my side.
It isn’t every day I quarrel
With a troublemaking squirrel;
he said you wouldn’t write, you see,
scoffed Foldemyrol and Fiddlemedee
when, naturally, I maintained you would
(being a literate girl, and good).
He said “Females never will write you a letter
unless to tell you that soon you’d better
send them some money to buy a new hat,
or for curling their tails, the likes of that.
They’ll write you a letter with no ifs and buts
When they find they are running a bit short of nuts
but when you are lonesome, and wanting a word,
to expect it from them, my dear fellow’s absurd.”
Well, I wouldn’t have that, and I briskly replied
”You should stick to your nuts and not act as a guide
to the ways of young females, for it’s clear as a tower
you’re a bit on the cynical side, moving to sour.
My Sally’s quite different from any you’ve known,
as different as honey to a blackhearted stone.”
“I’ll grant you,” he said, continuing churlish,
“there is some slight chance of a scented and girlish
handwritten letter addressed to your door,
– but a chance in two million, I wouldn’t say more”.
When I laughed in his face he was hopping with rage,
screaming “I too had such fancies when I was your age,
but you’ll learn, you young puppy, I’m telling you true
and I’ll have the last laugh when you find that you do!”
I left him still hopping and screaming and crying
and went on my way; but there’s still no denying
it left me in quite an uncomfortable mood
though I shrugged it off, thinking he’s just being rude,
a badtempered squirrel, all lost and forlorn,
who’s met no-one like Sal since the day he was born.
And yet, as I sit here, quite several days after
it seems that I hear sounds of strange and dark laughter
growing round me, increasing and mocking
as I fidget and wait for the postman’s knocking.
In beauty sleep, and safely stray
wherever sleep shall lead you.
Not the clamour of the day’s symphonic choir
shall sound its orchestrations;
rather shall the enamouring violin aspire
the measure of your voyaging.
In safety sleep, and beautify
my knowing you beside me.
The antic days of cacophonic doubt
are robbed of complications.
Attuned, the fiddler’s frantic shout
responds to your calm ordering.
Enwrapped, in night’s indifferent gaze
we hold; we lead and follow.
New days may choose but cannot change our gifting
in the tender stations of the night.
Now, the fusing of the rearranged
shall guard us in our slumbering.