Poem 175 – Soundscape

The wind’s white noise cannons against my ears
along with percussive rattling of jostling trees.
A distant car alarm melds with an avian
sentry, sounding an urgent, shrill reveille.
The muffled sound of barking blends into
the lapping of the usually languid Lea.
Astride their balance bikes, delighted children
point out serendipitous discoveries.

A blowy day for a lunchtime stroll by the River Lea.

© Ben Quant 2023

Poem 147 – November Walk

Four pm. November walk along
The Lea, the light is fading fast and all
Is dim. Like children’s plasticine the colours
Merge, the palate turns to shades of brown.
The sky blends with the gently lapping waters.
By naked trees who’ve shed, their colours bleed.
The air is mute, its voice is muffled, dull,
Only the Christmas lights dare interject.
From bankside windows, hope defiant flickers.

To end a period of Covid isolation, I took a walk along the River Lea this afternoon. I’ll never get bored of how the same stretch of water changes throughout the year. I didn’t think to take a photo, this one is from the same time last year, towards the river.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 136 – Captain Nature

Life finds a way somehow
Its superhero strength
Will overcome even
The most formidable
Opponent in its path
Yet even superman
Was vulnerable, made weak
By kryptonite struck down
So as the temperature rises
I wonder if we’ll prove
To be Achilles’ heel
Ushering in its downfall

I spotted this sapling impressively bursting through a nearby tarmac path, and it got me thinking about the patient strength of nature.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 133 – In Hope of Wild Flowers

So No Mow May slipped into June
Kneehigh the grasses swayed
And under summer’s sun turned brown
Before I’d turned a blade
I’d hoped for some exotic meadow
An array of blooms
Instead a field of hay fever
And stinging nettles grew
So finally I grabbed the mower
To try and tame this beast
But left it growing at the back
And planted some wild seeds

I’ve always fancied a wild flower meadow and a garden that’s more attractive to wildlife. Alas, it turns out that laziness doesn’t create it…

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 130 – The Wood

Walking beneath the canopy above,
I stop and listen. Slowly I begin,
To hear it breathe, the branches rise and fall,
And in its breeze, translucent leaves make play.

A bee drones past ignoring my intrusion,
Whilst down below the moles dig on unseen
Their earthy mounds the only indication,
Of their lightless subterranean dreams.

A flap and avian caw as something falls,
And ricochets, until the undergrowth,
Receives it with its eager spiky arms,
Concealing it within a dense embrace.

The trees begin to stir, swaying in slow,
Rhythm to a beat that sounds unheard.
Even the elders join their patient dance,
Their ancient limbs cracking as they flex.

A cole tit reassures his youngsters whilst,
He flits around the local bounds, with loud,
Beeping that finds an answering call,
Cried proudly, deep within their concealed nest.

Somewhere a stream trickles its way across,
The wood, its flow, the artery that serves,
To nourish this green creature I stand within,
Alive and other, beyond our frame of reference.

Exploring woodland in Hertford the other day, I stopped alone for a moment, and realised I was anything but…

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 119 – Changes

A jellied blob hangs in suspended spew.
Within, a dot becomes a growing eye,
That stares continually with many colleagues.
This froth, a stew of rich ingredients,
Together with the spark divine provides,
Impulse to life, wriggling in expansion.
A heart is born that beats the blood along,
The forming tail that from its cell propels,
The tadpole into water’s liberty.
This state is not its end, however, but,
A transitory phase. Before our eyes,
Impossibly it strains beyond, fingers,
Outstretched, extending from new reaching limbs.
New features grow as old ones fade, along,
With its truncating tail as with a croak,
The frog appears and fully free leaps skywards;
Yes, even greater than Bowie’s, this is
The miracle of metamorphosis.

Over the long Easter weekend we went looking around local ponds on the lookout for frogspawn. The journey from dot to frog never ceases to amaze me.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 118 – Queen of the Lake

In regal array the swan
Drifts serenely across the lake
With proud neck she stakes her claim
Outstretched wings proclaim her place
She rules all that she surveys
Usurpers swiftly subdued

In a bank holiday walk in Lea Valley we stopped to spend time with this majestic creature

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 117 – The Heron

The heron lumbers on
This prehistoric throwback
Envelopes with its wings
Turning the world to shades
Of grey forboding shadows
When passing overhead

Aloft it struggles to
Maintain its altitude
But on the river bank
Transformed and elegant
It perches, patient, wise
With poised anticipation

Its stillness is unmatched
The clock hand paused
The moment of decision
The throwing of the dart
A single precise strike
Efficient in its catch

Walking home from our Easter service a heron flew over, its struggles a clear contrast to its normal elegance.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 95 – The Scandal of Spring

Without our noticing, the velvet bud
Protrudes. This act of annual resurrection
From naked branch to clothed, a strip tease in
Reverse, so tantalising in modesty.
Before long, it will be scandalously dressed.

The bite of winter receding, our fruit trees are coming back to life once more.

© Ben Quant 2022

Poem 9 – Morning View Across Lea Valley

From my seat I survey the slumbering valley
Low-lying haze lingering awaiting the sun
Still air not disturbing nor whisper ruffling
The feathers of the stationary wood pigeon
Its solitary sentry, perched a top its pole

A murmuration glides elliptically sweeping
Forerunners perhaps of the morning’s wake
Pylons bisecting, stark across the horizon
Lone hint of humanity otherwise obscured
Except bare rooftops from this bedroom view

But gradually grey infects the day’s potential
Draining greens and yellows from tree and field
Viewed across this dip through which the Lea drains
Thames-ward to empty its life-giving waters
Rain’s curtain descends, this scene comes to an end

A rare breakfast in bed this morning afforded me a view out of our bedroom window across the Lea Valley. It seemed I was not alone in a slow start, with the view equally languid other than a flock of starlings sweeping past.


© Ben Quant 2021