When You Slept


When you slept
On the cushion
In the boat
Did you dream the walk we took
You and I
One autumn afternoon
From that little church at Lullington
Through Littlington to Alfriston
Where ageless fields of flint and chalk
Fall seamlessly to merge and meet
With green and violet shadows
That are circling and embracing
The cathedral of the Downs?
I was in terror of a storm that day
The brown and gold and crimson
Flew and fluttered round our heads
Brittle messages of loss and pain and death
The surging valley-side beyond us
Once a way to rise
I suddenly discerned
Was nothing
Nothing but a dumb and loveless wall
So sad to see familiar beauty now a thing of ugliness
I dropped my gaze
And then you spoke the word
A firm command
Into the centre of the raging storm
And when, on sensing stillness
At last I raised my eyes
I saw with grateful wonder
That the splendour had returned