Jill Sharp

Brinkwells, August 1918

Elgar begins his concerto for cello

When the first leaf, without a breeze
or any sign of winter, wends a slow
spiralling fall to earth, and then another
drifts in long melancholy circles down
till soon a vast bewildered host
comes falling, falling from grace, how
can the listener not lament these
fallen, nor pity losses of his own?

Recalling time left fallow and unattended;
a scrape of earth held
in the palm; the truth
that all our names are writ in water?

Out of the well that once seemed dry springs
memory – a fathomless regret
too cold for remedy.

And though there’s nothing to be said –
no cure, no balm – no benediction –
mortal flesh only has so much strength
for grieving: must breathe, must raise its head.
And though we fail, here
are these strings, this bow.
And we have felt all this.
And we will go on feeling.

Jill’s poems have appeared in magazines including Envoi, Morning Star, Mslexia, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Frogmore Papers and The Interpreter’s House as well as online and in anthologies. She worked for many years as a tutor with the Open University and now lives in Swindon. The photo shows her standing on the Worcestershire Beacon in the Malvern Hills – Elgar country.