You are the palest ring, the onethat nests inside the others,
flawed with at least one spilling knot-hole -
the oldest year, the eye of the wind.
You are within the curve of the wave,
its shielded centre, water curling
over you with blue-green wings.
You are at the hub, the sheltered
pivot around which others spiral.
You are the tender nucleus,
the pips inside the firm chamber
of the apple’s core. And at your heart,
the grown-up, glad-eyed girl still smiles,
a planet harboured by its sparkling circlet,
a tower defended by its crenelated
barricade. You are the hidden metaphor
at the axis of our mystery, the seat
of our success - the crux - the gathering place.
And we shall gather there,
for the time we have left will be finer
for the keeping of you - safe, out of harm’s
hounding. For if you keep us straight
and sound, holding the centre
of the sail in perfect alignment
with the wind that threatens to overspill
us, if you stay at the maze’s midpoint,
we will umbrella you home.
Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 90 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshots, The Stinging Fly, Acumen, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children's fantasy novel.