At the Wayside


I walked to where the river ran

On those spring days in ages past

When the oak trees were but saplings

And below, this road was but a path

Wandering to the place where we

Would by chance so often meet

Beside the river, upon the hill

Where all was limned in peace.

We two wanderers, Niphophar,

Laid down fare, laid down arms

Breaking fast as if long years

Had left us as companions are

When all we shared was the ease

Of  warm sunlight over the valley

Of flowers’ bloom, short and sweet

And grasses’ dance in the breeze.

Scant words to trade even as

We met at the wayside of the path

Time and again, though it was

A place that men rarely passed

For unspoiled the river flowed

Down from peaks crowned in snow

To fill our skins and cool our brows

Before falling to the valley low.

We came to wait if the sun was high

Each for the other’s walking by

Each for a ready, road-worn smile

And for sitting under open sky

Ever blue, for we took fair days

Alone for meeting in that place

Days when the dry earth made

Fine couches for our separate ways.

How easy it was to meet and part

In the empty country, Niphophar

When the nearest dwellings lay

 Off at miles green and far

When at night, over the hills

The hum of crickets was all until

The oaks spread and from branches

Came the call of whip-poor-will

Image from Xaxor

© 2012, Elizabeth Cook

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12 comments

  1. I followed this from your post about the perfect stranger. What a lovely piece of writing! It is so evocative and I love the sense it leaves you with; a kind of peace and a yearning and a sense of something far-reaching, It has the universality of nature that characterises ancient scenes and fantasy for me. Thank you for stopping by also! x

    1. Yep! I was thinking to myself, if those two people had met another way they might have been fighting. Instead they are content to stop for lunch together, and then keep walking…

      1. I haven’t been blogging for long… a month maybe, nor have I really been reading blogs but I’ve learned from you that you can take the time to read from others and help them find you. Not only that, your writing inspires me to use my words and flow to tell a story and not just convey raw emotion.

        I think what you do is a craft and I hope to eventually emote a similar style. It reminds me how I paint. It begins with a feeling but it tells a story in the end.

        1. I learned that lesson from a more experience blogger maybe a month ago, and I’m glad to have passed it on 🙂 I’m also really happy to hear that I’ve managed to inspire somebody a little!

          I adore stories in poetry, poems may need emotion but they can polish feelings to a poignancy that really gets me! What sorts of stories have you put into paintings?

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