God chose today to celebrate
the end of British Summer Time
with a love feast of fine art.
He spread Worle’s green sward tabletops
with tapestries of white.
By dawn he’d sprinkled every lawn
with attractive manna frosting –
an hors d’oevre appetizer
that stirred, in expectation,
digestive juices in my soul.
Later, when meandering
into an empty meadow,
the low, bright autumn sunshine
reflected off a vast mirage
of translucent misty dew.
Dew? On a warm still afternoon?
Mystery surpassing strange –
the toecaps of my quite dry shoes
were muted with a tangle of
lacklustre gossamer threads.
Floodlit by the burnished westering sun
the verdant table of this public park
reposed beneath a coverlet
of delicate, shimmering muslin.
Transfixed, I thought the field was filled
with quivering silken harp-strings
which to high heaven broadcast
their cascade of chords Aeolian
on a frequency of a pitch too high
for uncouth human ears,
their ripple of enthralling
the Creator’s eager heart.
The best of Mantovani’s
massed orchestral strings
never had produced
such a banquet of arpeggios.
I turned to tiptoe home
lest I should disturb God’s
Royal Command Performance,
or damage the finesse of filigree
of the Jeweller divine,
or deface the Weaver’s handicrafted,
fragile seamless veil –
yet yearning to invite
at least one other visitor
to gaze and gasp in wonder.
Surely, Sheba’s Queen when decked
in all her splendour
ne’er displayed such grandeur
as this lace so finely textured.
Ensconced indoors to contemplate
and maybe to compose
a silent sigh, a selah,
my pen became the tongue of
a gushing psalm of praise.
The need to give my garden lawn
the season’s final trim
called me from my reverie.
As I swept the barber’s clippings,
God sent the dessert course –
wood ash from a bonfire fell
featherlight and fragrant
like talcum powder soothing
the freshly close-cropped neck.
If God so clothed my grass today
will he not dress me
in a manner that is suited to
this season of the onset of
the winter of my life?
-experienced in Weston-super-Mare, 25th October 1997, just after his 60th birthday (3.9.97) and re-written in Szczecin, Poland, 8th June 2000.
A PROSE ACCOUNT OF THAT REMARKABLE DAY
The experience in the park had an awesome sense about it.
On that Saturday afternoon, this popular area for dog walking and children’s play was unusually empty. Thousands of spiders must have meshed the short grass with a continuous network of filaments of fine threads. Ahead of us stretched two long lines of footprints and behind us the tracks of my footsteps and the paw marks of my dog.
At first I assumed the phenomena were indications of dew – except, it dawned on me, this was mid-afternoon with bright sunshine. I then noticed the mass of tangled spiders’ web remains on the toes of my shoes.
Crouching down and facing into the low sunbeams, I realized that before me and around me stretched acres of woven wonder. The individual strands could now be observed – oscillating ceaselessly like harp-strings.
I had no wish to disturb the scene any further, but wanted someone else to see it before it was obliterated forever. As we reached the gate, Becka Knight, a teenager from our church, was entering the park from her nearby home together with a friend. So I was able to show them this amazing work of art, and let them try to puzzle it out as I had done, before answering their question: Whatever is it?
Although I have come across this excessive web-spinning fever of spiders in autumn, this was the only time all the conditions combined – sunshine, few footprints, morning frost, evening bonfire drop-out – all on the day before we changed our clocks back one hour to Greenwich Mean Time . . . not forgetting that I had very recently passed the 60-year marker of my earthly pilgrimage, and was just about to fly out with my wife to our son and his family in New Zealand to celebrate it. Certainly a scenario to activate the poetic glands and the worship muscles!