Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Road Less Travelled

The first day that we went out together feels like the happiest day of my life, though I know there must have been other happy days before it, in years gone by, memories faded by time. This one shone so brightly though, I'm not sure it will ever be eclipsed.

You arrived at my house, freshly shaven in your bright blue fleece and the shirt that became known as the 'Beverley Shirt'. You came equipped with tools on the pretext of sorting out some jobs but you didn't do much, just cut through the chain that bound my bike to his, set us free.

I made chilli and told you of my internet dating exploits, taking in the barely concealed look of disappointment on your face when you realised you were not the only man on my radar, though you were already, the only man in my heart. And then it began. The first adventure.

You took me to Redmires, stopping the van by a derelict building to take pictures for your 'shack project'. (The folder sits on my desktop now.) Later you told me how mesmerised you were by the look on my face as I stood like a ghost in the house. You wanted so much to capture that look again, but I didn't know what it was. A mixture maybe of uncertainty and desire. A look that probably belonged just to that day.

And then the real journey started, from the car park and up the hill. We went through the wrong gate from the moment we set out and strayed further and further from the path, but closer and closer to each other.

'We could make a coffee table book,' I said. 'You could take the photos and I could write poems to go with them.'

You sent me your photos of that day and I sent you a poem.
'A beautiful way to remember a magical day,' you said.
Our collaboration had begun.

A Road Less Travelled

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and knowing he had but two choices,
Frost chose the road less travelled,
laying words along the path as he went
like a mantra for wise feet to follow.

But you have led me to a landscape
that dips and dives like the nameless birds
that swoop overhead in the September sky:
starlings, skylarks, swifts?
Here, I'm not even sure there is a path
and though you claim to know where you're going
in truth, we neither know nor care,
content as we are to wander and to wonder
side by side in the open expanse of the day.

Mostly we spring on tussocks,
tossing words and laughter as we go,
moving swiftly from grassy hump to hump,
topic to topic, to avoid getting bogged down,
marooned in the mire. And though we speak
sometimes of paths taken and not taken,
trod and untrod, we plant our feet firmly,
smack bang here in the glory of the present.

Then we spy a spinney, a copse, a triumph of trees
waving their branches to us from a desert island
in this sea of purple flowers and we know
without a shadow of a doubt that we must
abandon the path (was there ever a path?)
and head to this oasis, like pirates
(you do have an inner pirate don't you?)
on a quest for hidden treasure.
And we join hands briefly as we tred on rickety rocks,
assail the barbed wire fence, go AWOL on the moors.

But then something unexpected happens
and one view leads to another and we see
a house - a solid pile of stone perched
above a tranquil pool like a call to home.
And, still in sync, we change track again,
cross the bridge from the past to the future
and back again.  And we sit, side by side,
watching ripples from hidden fish on the water,
not knowing where we will go next
but thankful for the road less travelled today.

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