Thursday, April 9, 2015

Abigail Ottley Wyatt- Three Poems

For Billie Holiday 7th April, 1915-17th July1959
Dead Lady Day
you were
hard dense matter shining
shining like a yellow moon
in a tear-streaked 
Harlem sky
you were
a fierce black star
all fired up for a while
falling like a stone
into oblivion
you were
a small sad thing 
a nightjar singing 
singing songs about that good stuff 
that was never like to be
you were
tough and strong
too old to be young
frailer than the rosy dawn
you somehow lived to see
you were
sweet and bitter
like so many broken dreams
and sharp on the tongue like easy kisses
your life
was like them 
tart green crabs
that still grow on that 
old history tree.
Thirteen Hundred Scholars
So much innocence rests in these grim remains:
see the slender, whitened bones of their two wasted arms
either outstretched at near ninety degrees
or, sometimes, less neat and more haphazard, 
as roughly, even randomly, placed;
see, too, how some bones sit awkwardly
askew in the face of death’s great dark,
as though they would curl like thumb-sucking infants 
in the arms of the mothering earth.
Some limbs, though, appear bizarrely scattered;
not needed, perhaps, on this voyage?
Did their ghostly owners know there would be no 
resurrection but only this irreverent exposure?
Did they agree not to worry overmuch and, 
in settling, snatch rudely at their peace?
These bones remind us that death, when it comes, 
rarely finds us packed for our journey.
Most of us will answer when we least expect it
a brief familiar strangeness at the door.

“As an archaeologist who works in Jerusalem, it doesn’t matter where the real location of Jesus’s trial was. What matters is what people believe.’ – Re’em
Is This It?
You have to ask yourself
even if you don’t believe;
even if you have never quite believed
that Jesus was the son of God.
If Jesus was real
is this where he stood?
Is it where he first got an inkling
that things were getting sticky
and starting to go downhill?
The past is the past, of course,
and it may be a matter of perspective:
‘Behold the Man,’ said one.
‘What is truth?’ asked another.
Me, though, I recollect most clearly
the magic I found in the richly coloured plates
of my Children’s New Testament (Illustrated).
It seems, as the archaeologist tells us:
‘What matters is what people believe.’

Abigail Ottley Wyatt  was born in Essex but now lives at Druids Lodge in Cornwall. At her home at Druids Lodge, she writes poetry and short fiction and tries to stay out of trouble. A Pushcart nominee, she is the author of 'Old Soldiers, Old Bones' (fiction)  and 'Moths in a Jar'(poetry). She is also one half of the the performance duo 'The Fool and the Liar'.

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