John Bottomley
Songs of the Ornamental Hermits

Mercury Manor

Once while travelling abroad,i found myself in a deep fog
one so thick i was intoxicated into the most peculiar mood
the earth under my feet was scotch broom and bracken
I walked on for some distance having no sense of direction
until my eyes caught tracks on the ground
they looked like fossil bird tracks one would find in a
museum
I followed the footprints for what seemed like an hour as
i zigzagged down a narrow mountain road
the path became softer like walking on a croquet lawn
suddenly the fog disappeared and my fingers touched a gate
of Bavarian wood
the gatekeeper was a bowing gargoyle wearing a white suit
and a blue hat
on his left breast embroidered,was the hermits coat of arms
he was holding a mistletoe known as the low country badge.

I lifted the latch and walked through the gate
the landscape was surrounded by rows of ancient oaks
at the edge of the forest were lofty hills that rolled up and down
the guest appeared in a miracle of surprise
as a fresh scent of oconee bells,phantom orchids
and mountain blue flags came rushing by
in a tree ,magical birds were in a ceremony weaving nests
in their Avian architecture
there was a flood of unpretending melody
there were spangled drongo's in gossips court
a belted kingfisher,flocks of ribbon-tailed birds of
paradise.
Directly on my right on a knoll was the fabled Norfolk
water reed in its wild luxury
there was a pond with a black swan,crimson beak silently
gliding
the trees were whispering
i stopped and gazed down the path
a short distance down one path was a sign that read
Mercury Manor
hidden in the trees i saw a small cottage and smoke
rising from a golden roof
the cottage fit so well in the scene it became invisible
then visible with the lime twig spells of twilight
the magical effect made me feel i was standing in a painting
the cottage was very small,maybe ten feet high and twenty feet wide
at the back there was a small tower,a medieval star,planet
gazing tower
in the garret i imagined a quiet library where one could
read and listen to the music of the orbs
in a window was a colony of rare white lady's slipper.

Rocking in front of an oak door was a woman in a chair
she drank from a turquoise teacup
She was the most beautiful woman i have ever seen
there was something strange about this place,something
inhuman
something mid-air,mid-earth
this scene was the craft work of a gnome
a sylph,dryad,genie
and of the remarkable elves.............
1. Bell tower radio
2. The way I feel
3. The red road
4. Bringing down the moon
5. Ballad of Jacob Peck
6 .Harold
7. Sarah Whitehead
8. Black Crèpe hat
9. Ring like gold
10.Two People

11.Dance of the dryad
12.Paper sail