THE GIFT

Time for a little poetry after so much unpleasant and utterly disrespectful ranting. This poem, written 33 years ago, was published in a fugitive collection entitled Of Western Limits, containing my work and poems by John Wilkinson, ostensibly written during a walking holiday we went on in Scotland and intended to be a Lyrical Ballads for our generation. There’s certainly a copy in the British Library and there may even be one in the Cambridge University Library. I have one myself, unbound, and I imagine John does too. And that’s it. It’s dedicated to Charlie Bulbeck, who printed the collection and conspired with its authors in various other undertakings of a cultural nature.

The Gift has apparently been referred to as ‘the great lost work of the Cambridge school’. (Once more, I have John to thank for this information.)

Well, it’s lost no longer.

THE GIFT
for Charlie Bulbeck

Where we drive it is stubborn,
parked on the cliff edge it comes
with dawn. By inclusive reckon
each meed recovers its promise,
drifts home, a treasured account

in the nervous rein. Only a
loose prize, caustic on
the parabolic curve of tin,
burnished, you might reflect,
in whose pervasive ardour.

We are spelt, as grammar and
glamour cohabit in the patch;
a scholar’s trick. We conjure
allotments, ravishing in this
bright arena, with subtle poise

down the borders of light.
From scattered harvest, neap
touches the high-water mark,
rummage of golden oddments
scooped in, the sight of grain.

Forgiven by the bollard, by
the gleaming trim of the hub,
you reap, compacted to your
lunar metric. An occult
precipice and the flank of

achievement is bare, enticing.
It is sleight of hand, the boy
looks open mouthed as the conjurer
cuts down the stalk, a white bird
shimmering on his sleeve.

And this is the gift it brings:
refracted on the car, in sight
of the coastal acres, scoured
haloes of sunlight ‘as solid
and dense and fixed’ as

you can hope to secure it.
Arrest that flame, coals glint
and the flue is absolved by this
shiny token it palms you, tanned
still, elated in the fluent breeze.

This entry was posted in cambridge, charlie bulbeck, john wilkinson, poem. Bookmark the permalink.

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