Before we drove back to London
It was evening, late June, Dorset
We walked through the valley
Where breath came rising from seas
Of tall grass and the bracken grew curling
In licks like flames we had to fight through;
A soft fight; the flames were waves
To get to a far point, bang in the thick of it,
Where, by the stream, there was a place to stop.
The bracken stayed rising, birds were in the high trees.
The night before, there had been a night-jar,
And we’d sat on a log to listen.
We found the spot, and you bent to pick up something
That seemed to have been cast off. You put it in my palm
Before I could see it. I shut my eyes.
It was the precise shape of a hand-grenade,
The weight not far off, the texture almost true;
Cold, too, and sticky as though held too long
Through nerves, or indecision, before being chucked
At just the right moment to cause maximum creation:
Nature’s grenade; a cedar cone. They take three years to make.
The thing is on my desk right now.
It's my favourite gift from you
The sap oozing, the scent rising, the life waiting.
Today, wishing myself back beneath that tree,
I read how Solomon, building the temple,
Asked Hiram, King of Tyre,
For Cedars from the forests of Lebanon.
The wood transplanted, the motive went full circle -
Religion running always after life.