‘Joy’s arrival’ was written in the early months of global lockdowns, at a time where distance felt insurmountable and travel impossible. In the midst of a kind of togetherness in distance, it nonetheless hopes for the future joys of reunions and new unions as it imagines the joy of seeing people split across seas and continents brought together again or for the first time.
“Hidden in the boughs” was first drafted sitting at the edge of the lake in the C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve (just behind the Kilns), a place which became a kind of solace or escape, full of stillness amidst the noise of the pandemic-raging world. It was written as the first of the lockdowns, in England, eased a little and we were allowed to leave for walks a little further from our houses.
Is that joy coursing through my veins,
Pulling up the corners of my mouth,
Affixing a smile that will not be shifted,
Filling up from the pit of my stomach
As organs play a joyful symphony
And join in the dance of joy?
The arrival, anticipation, a tangible grasp—
Each one in the crowd awaiting another,
Signs held aloft, plane engines resound.
I wonder what best to write on the sign,
I scribble a hasty J – finish it joy
Joy, yes, joy. I’m here for joy.
As the terminal empties
The trickle of passengers still trundle through
In their sea of faces, tired smiles all round.
And then, through the gates,
From those heavenly skies
Delivered securely— by our Father no less,
A luggage label reads: delivered, with joy.
Fumbling we find one another’s faces in the crowd.
Lock glances with joy, blink over the miles.
(Has a “Hello” ever been weightier–
My mind wanders and wonders).
Then we stand face to face,
And we speak, yes we speak–
It is joy.
Hidden in the Boughs
Ripples and bubbles, the fishes below,
Even the water-boatman come to say “Hello.”
The heavens open
with a baptism of water.
Rain descends out of nowhere.
Where once was sunshine, droplets come
The wind swells, the water—pushed—ripples.
Slowly, wavelike the pond-top surges.
Hooded, I wander
Seeking solace under coat-clad trees.
And, just as suddenly as it shattered,
The droplets cease.
And those who remain are treated again
To the silence, the peace,
The beauty, the space.
The sun reappears,
Breathes in rain’s heady scent
As he lingers on the ground,
As he settles on the leaves.
On this bramble-covered path
I chart a course unvisited for weeks;
Not quite my own and yet somehow so,
Even as my tracks intrude to
Disrupt nature’s spread and play—
Ferns bow their leaves
As they flood into view.
In woods where the trees still have eyes—
Eyes which see into the past
From their deep-rooted seats,
Which remember the joy
And the grief they have heard,
The palms they have felt—
Wet with grief, shaking with fear,
Trembling with joy.
Woods full of stories—
Some written. Some untold.
Stories of people, of animals, of old.
But they welcome us in
With their boughs, give a bow!
With their silent windy shrugs,
With their possibilities, hopes
(the would of the wood).
For this is a wood
(29th June 2020)
Sarah Waters is a Lecturer in English Literature and an Honorary Junior Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham, UK. Recent publications include an article on female agency, melancholia, and depression in Shakespeare’s Pericles and an article exploring the connections between Out of the Silent Planet and The Tempest. Her long-term project explores C. S. Lewis’s interaction with Shakespeare.
Sarah Waters, “Joy’s Arrival,” An Unexpected Journal: Joy 5, no. 3. (Fall 2022), 187-188.
Sarah Waters, “Hidden in the Boughs,” An Unexpected Journal: Joy 5, no. 3. (Fall 2022), 189-190.