Any attempt to pin down this exact moment, that exact image exactly what I feel and need to say needs words that are not born yet, metaphors for minds not yet formed, such is exactitude. Yet that is what poets attempt to do. We stand at the edge of the crowd, listening to the music hearing the echoes of other times and places, and ask a shadow to dance.
Was a whole different universe,
of course the road was the A40
or the Western Avenue as we called it then.
One side urban west London
the other a seemingly limitless sprawl of brambles
riddled with paths sized for squeezing small children
as if the local mothers had arranged it so
that adults could not blackberry but only
give instructions from the edges.
Everyone brambled in summer
red stained children limping home
at days end with huge leaking bags of berries
and a future full of pies and jam.
The real magic of that place was a stream
clear and sparkling, running over pebbles
in places deep and wide, where
baby brothers could be washed
and drinking cups filled.
The shallows were my solitary joy in spring when
armed with a net and an empty jam jar I searched for
blushed red male Sticklebacks, to bring them home
and watch them, marvelling at
their writhing sinuous shapes,
those outsized blue-green eyes
the sharp stickles on each back.
Taking part in Sarah Connor’s challenge over at Earthweal.
Here’s Sarah’s prompt:
“So, for this prompt, I’d like you to think about how you first felt connected to nature – maybe as a child, or as an adult. Some of those lost words may inspire you, or you may have your own lost word (or world?) that gave you a sense of wonder at the natural world around you. Maybe you collected caterpillars, or watched birds on a bird-table, or squatted down to watch beetles, or looked up to see squirrels in the treetops.”
Green shoots spring up in fire scorched land
deep roots are not reached by fire or frost
life on our blue globe lurks far and wide
in caves and at ocean bottom
in chemical pools
in basalt rock
Last spring the laurel hedge by my window was empty
No chirruping, calling, no rustling of glossy leaves
No fledglings edging off the nest onto twigs and then the adjacent fence
No wobbling and frantic flapping as parents patiently cajole
No triumphant flights to the Rose bushes
Only to tumble to the grass
As the chosen twig was too thin
I didn’t see a blackbird in my garden all summer
An oven of a season, hot, glaring, unseasonal in England
I mourn the fathers melodies, sung full voiced to advent dawn
The mother following me, chatting as she pirated fallen chicken feed
All those babies, remember the funeral my small sons conducted
For a tiny one found dead mid-lawn