TJ (17th June 1958 / England)

The Old One Trilogy

Old One (01.07 Bruebach)

The Old One stood, stock still and staring,
Somewhere between
In-depth contemplation
Of life’s deeper mysteries and meanings,
And intense concentration
Upon some feature or creature
Just a few metres or so from his feet.

His robes were as weather-worn,
Faded and blanched
As the years that furrowed his brow
And had bent his upper back
Into a pronounced, round-shouldered stoop.

He was still there, hours later,
Having moved not a muscle
As if in training for eternity:
A shade only slightly more sombre
Than the shadows of evening
Falling, more curtain than veil,
Upon the bleak winter landscape
And upon the gnarled, lopped tree
I later found my Old One to be.


The Old One Two (13.09.07 Bruebach)

Haven’t seen hide nor hair of his familiar stoop
For a good while.

Miss him.

Miss his comforting solidity,
The slant of his shoulders -
Even his cardinal’s hat:
Its corners so riveted to his cranium
They had squared off his head
And become as much a part of him
As the gnarled hands permanently jammed inside his bark-jacket pockets.
There had been a time
I could catch an occasional glimpse of him from afar,
Ministering stillness and silence to the swaying flock thronging at his feet
Like a rock, so rooted with passion for its place in the world, it would never roll.
But that was well before he had become obscured
By tall walls of green youth
Reaching for the ripe skies of adulthood.

He’ll be back though – he always is:
For his season’s disciples will bow before the blade,
Or fade before the Fall: -
It’s the way of it.

I’ll be waiting.

Then will he preach to a broader church
Drawn from the soils beneath his soles
And souls on the road to wherever they are bound,
Who, like me,
May well wonder,
Might just see
The strange yet welcome spirit
That is he.

The Rags of the Raptured (a.k.a: The Old One Three) 16.10.07

He came back last week.
Seemed as if he’d changed his coat and his tune,
Having worn terribly,
And faded four or more shades the deeper
In tone and demeanour.

His silence had put on a few pounds
Since his acolyte audience
Had been raptured without him:
Translated at the metal angel’s last trump
From brown, down-at-heel, stick-in-the-mud
To gleaming, yellow-golden glory
And housed in one of the many mansions,
Prepared as promised,
Where the weather of the world
Would wear and weigh no more.

He alone was left in the landscape.
A Jean Baptiste, confused and crying voiceless in his wilderness;
Wordless against the wind
Now sweeping away the rags of the raptured
To rob him of even the faintest echo of his faithful service,
Helpless against a Nature who would no more nurture him.
He was become the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
After the apple had been plucked:
A blameless metaphor for something once pure,
Now unimaginably wronged as much by Creator as created.
Condemned….. yes,
Yet never without consequence
In this world….
And maybe even the next.

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Comments (2)

Tony this is absolutely stunning. An enchanting tale of nature and art in symbiosis. Your images are clear and intensely moving as well. The journey of your Old One from season to season (I don't think you need the footnote explanation by the way) is mesmerizing in its originality and its awareness of what lies beneath the taken for granted. Wonderful poem. love, Allie ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Pretty deep I'd say!