At last,

after the winter’s stone,

I gather mugwort from the village roads.

Feathered purple sage,

fresh mint,

lemon balm,

thyme’s purple flowers

and parsley’s drooping stars,

hang in my kitchen,

drying,

to save the scents of summer,

against the winter chills.

 

I gather the pearl-grey down

of cygnets

preening

on the dappled morning

canal.

 

I gather in

my muscles,

stomach contracting as the river reaches,

toes,

ankles,

shin,

fish skimming thigh,

navel,

until I gather in my breath

and fall backwards into the golden river,

floating into stillness,

powdered with willow,

skimmed with jewelled damsel flies.

Silently I stretch my arms,

through the flow,

to the islands small feet paddled on,

too many summers ago.

I gather in the pebbles we used to skim,

notice how the willow has taken root where there was none,

inhale half remembered summers chasing shoals of tiddlers

with plastic buckets,

sometimes catching some.

 

I gather,

fingers and toes

then root down into mountain pose,

feeling the stretch and taut of

older bones.

 

I gather arrows of sunlight,

reflected in the smooth blue sky,

watching the swallows

circle and swoop,

looping freely

on unseen currents

with playful ease.

 

I gather the banter,

of teenage conversation

in a different language from my own,

their familiar-strange faces,

moving away

and staying close.

 

I gather memories of skin to skin,

of hand in hand,

of the freckled weathering.

 

I gather this bright summer’s day,

into my cells,

my bones,

my heart.

I wrap is safely,

it is a spell

against the dark.