Our children (and other animals!)


Walking the Dog


In the wood it's snowing gold.

On the hill, above the hedge, a grey horse,
twin Marabou-plumes steaming from its nostrils,
crops the Old Year's grass.

Quyn stares, glued to the ground with mud and amazement,
makes a strategic retreat, barking defiance over his
But the stream beckons, and the horse is forgotten......

Among the naked trees a sprinkling of small birds
       are hunting berries, or insects.

              It is never still here.

The seasons' story's written on the falling leaves,
in the sand at the bottom of the stream,
in the flight of jays,
in clouds, in rainfall,
in Quyn's thundering paws and inquisitive nose.

Between the river and the wood
a heron landed, stilt-legged, fan-winged hieroglyph
in smoke and ink.
The earth breathed a sigh, settling herself for sleep.

Above the river a tapestry, colour on colour on colour,
infinite shades of honey and gold, aching yellow,
              acid green,
heart's-blood, burgundy, cider and straw, and a soft mist rising.
Childlike at Xmas, the pup is bewitched
and canons from here to there and back again,
rippling fur and lolling tongue and rotoring tail -
Quyn's first autumn, and a pale sun smiling.


Bitter Season

Wind flayed the skin raw as we climbed down the hill
in the bitterest deep-winter weather.
Frozen pools cracked and crazed underfoot,
Quyn's fur streaming backwards as he fought the blast
whipping along the river valley,
and I struggling to stay upright,
and the crows in tattered cloaks
rasping invocations back and forth
through the flurrying snow.

We paused on the plateau, myself and dog alone under a glowering sky,
the silver poplars shuddering, the clouds racing and tumbling along the horizon,
and I watched the gulls flung backwards on the bitter wind,
and raised my arms and laughed aloud,
my spirit soaring with them, shimmering with elemental joy.....

Later, warming by the fire,
Quyn lying at my feet and strong hands stroking my hair,
cherished and content,
I gave silent thanks for simple things,
for friends, for the excitement of living,
and for love, always love,
rarest and most precious of all.


Kingfisher Morning

Time clicked over another year.
In the morning, in the valley,
sliding in mud and deep leaf mold,
midst dampness, and the slanting sun
gilding the trees an alien gold,
Quyn losing sticks, and we downhearted, dumb.
Quite suddenly,
equidistant in air and rippling water,
a kingfisher skimmed along the stream,
wings scything the mist.
Rare, bright echo of a dream
in the pastel morning, one
bright hope for the year to come.
Genius loci,
flown from distant waters, flash of summer,
gift from the valley.
Halcyone, home from the tranquil sea.



At the end of the valley, where the brook
dives under the railway track,
we stopped to listen.
Storm-swollen, the water plunged in multi-cadenced white
in reverse down a man-made salmon-leap,
visual vertigo and aural assault.
Quyn lost interest.
I lost time-sense.
And the song of the waters filled my world.......



They have cut back the growth in the watermeadow,
and the hawthorns are swollen and bright with early berries,
Promising an early winter.
But for now it is hot here, butterflies barely stirring in the shimmering air,
The birds too heatlazy to move.
We move slowly through the valley, sandals raising dust
from the earthen path, limbs heavy and limp
in the burnishing afternoon, too hot even to laugh......
Quyn pants from the middle of the stream, fur flowing with the water,
hot dog hunting the deepest pools.
The bee-tree is noiseless.
Even the holiday children are quiet, the swinging ropes on the old sycamore deserted
in favour of back garden paddlepools and icecream.......
Why are we here?
We could be stretched like sleeping cats in our own garden,
embraced in scents of melissa and honeysuckle,
the sky an aching blue above us, the grass dry peridot below......

Ah, but then we would have missed an extraordinary sight -
a sparrowhawk snatching a magpie from the desiccated air,
dropping with it to the stream,
and drowning it, swiftly and efficiently, in the sluggish waters......
We stared, unbelieving, cameraless as always when such things happen.
       .......Nature is not kind, but she is always interesting!


Quyn and the Squirrel

Helpless with laughter we supported each other
and watched as a furiously barking Quyn tried to climb a tree
to catch the chittering nutgathering squirrel
that was angrily throwing twigs and leaves at him.......
Dogs.... Better than TV!!

© 1994-98 Joules Taylor



At your birth my universe contracted
into a single point of infinite potential
15 hours old and pain that was not felt.
Your father saw you first,
his eyes bright with pride
as he welcomed you to the world.
Exhausted, we gazed at each other,
you and I,
our eyes full of wonderment,
in that moment perfect
and complete.

© 1995 Joules Taylor

              01.10.1997 - This is Home

Today I made peace with the world
Sunflower whirling widdershins around a tomato
on the lawn of our suburban garden
with my two and a half year old son
we were the Earth, it was the sun

we were dancing the story of the year
(for once our dog didn't mess up the game)
at the end we shared the tomato
and replaced it with freshly fallen petals
from the sunflower he planted in spring.

© 1997 Ken Taylor

The Cats.

                     Three Cats own me -
                     Witchy-kits all -
                     Mewing incantations
                     'Round the feeding bowl......

Raptor Dreams.....
A blacklightning streak up the length of the garden.....
Raptor is chasing intruders away......
Our noble little warrior, a pint-sized panther under the cloudless skies of summer.....

And later,
Pale opalesque eyes closed,
       A feline singularity,

              she lies on darkness,
              dreaming, perhaps, of other days and other skies -
Owl-eyed with moon-madness
              fleeting across a sharp-edged desert,
       racing Time across the windless dunes:
Or maybe as a silver-scythed huntress,
    prowling deep in murmuring forest floor,
              hiding from the sun -
Or leaping and gavotting with the dancing leaves
in the company of wind-cats
       only she can see.
Mysterious, alien,
a Cleopatra of cats,
she is fey, and strange, and wise beyond my knowing...

Argent is Looking for Mischief.......

A pointed little face peers down from the cradle in the top of the willow -
Chasing his tail round the thinnest of branches,
Argent delights in high places, giving breathless truth to the phrase -
       "I nearly had kittens!".

Argent has a dark moon on each flank; white boxing gloves
and a streak of lightning on his chest.
He decided, long ago, he'll stay a kitten forever.

So -

He shreds all the toilet rolls, tears all the tissues out of their boxes,
       hides the cords of dressing gowns...
Yesterday his tail crept up behind him and gave him such a fright
       he streaked up and down the stairs, a wild-eyed tabby comet, but still
              it followed him,
Until he pounced and bit it...!

Argent likes to help me water plants. He drinks from the can as I pour,
and splatters the leaves, and himself, and me.
Argent has a strange and noisy cry, and almond eyes
that sometimes look inscrutable,
sometimes innocent,
sometimes wild,
but mostly just bewildered........
and Argent has no need to look for mischief.
It finds him, wherever he may be.......


lies purring in the bed between us,
Regal head on the pillow, greengold eyes half closed.
Luxurious and heavy, Renoiresque with soft tiny paws and delicate tail,
An Earth Mother cat.

In sunlight or firelight stretched belly up and sleeping,
Or pacing the garden with stately deliberate grace.
She will not be hurried, she will not be moved.
Yet Ryme is curious about all things, will watch for hours
if the subject warrants it.... For seconds if not.
Ryme was born to put the human race in its place........
       Below the cats!


My fingers trace the outline of a sleek lean body, singular fur
       dusted with the silver of interstellar distances
              and too fine to be felt by my fingertips.
       Raptor stretches hugely -
          to infinity.
              Her mystery enwraps her......

Ryme, complete within herself,
will suffer stroking, purring negligently,
       listen to endearments
           with withering contempt,
then stalk next door to sleep, communing with herself.
The only way to get sensible answers......

Argent is afraid of everything........
Argent will not be picked up, but will lie for hours to be stroked
and petted and talked to, cooing like a pigeon....
Argent hates Quyn - hides behind doors and mauls the pooch's nose as he trots through...
And Quyn so kind in return, barking at the door to let us know
That Argent wants to come in......
(Because, of course, Argent cannot use the catflap.....)
A strange, neurotic cat.
A difficult, awkward cat,
A special member of the family......


My little familiar
was killed before she knew what joy there was in life.
Roeg, precious one......
Half-way to human, and more human than some humans I have known....
Sleeping curled around my head, protecting me
from the terrors of the night - climbing up to my shoulder to watch me
kneading dough, purring in my ear - rolling on the ansaphone, in ecstasy,
when she heard my voice on the line....
And I,
Sharing her mind, roaming through the wildlands of the garden,
Seeing through her eyes, hearing the faint sounds of earth and sky,
feeling the warmth of sun and caress of leaf and branch against the skin.....

Killed by a ratrunner, December 6th 1991. Nine months old.........
I will always miss you, little one........

© 1998 Joules Taylor

(Variously published in Moonstone and X-Calibre.)

© 1999 WordWrights.

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