Tag Archives: nature

Friday Poem: The Falcon Growing Old

​The falcon wears its erudition lightly
As it angles down towards its master’s glove.
Student of thermals written by the desert,
It scarcely moves a muscle as it rides
A silent avalanche back to the wrist
Where it will stand in wait like a hooded hostage.

A lifetime’s learning renders youthful effort
Less necessary, which is fortunate.
The chase and first-strike kill it once could wing
Have grown beyond it, so some morning soon
This bird will have its neck wrung without warning
And one of its progeny will take its place.

Thinking these things, the ageing writer makes
Sketches for poems, notes for paragraphs.
Bound for the darkness, does he see himself
Balanced and forceful like the poised assassin
Whose mere trajectory attracts all eyes
Except the victim’s? Habit can die hard,

But still the chance remains he simply likes it,
Catching the shifting air the way a falcon
Spreads on a secret wave, the outpaced earth
Left looking powerless. This sentence here,
Weighed down by literal meaning as it is,
Might only need that loose clause to take off,

Air-launched from a position in the sky
For a long glide with just its wing-tip feathers
Correcting for the wobble in the lisp
Of sliding nothingness, the whispering road
That leads you to a dead-heat with your shadow
At the orange-blossom trellis in the oasis.

by Clive James

Friday poem: Kinship

Very slowly burning, the big forest tree
stands in the slight hollow of the snow
melted around it by the mild, long
heat of its being and its will to be
root, trunk, branch, leaf, and know
earth dark, sun light, wind touch, bird song.

Rootless and restless and warmblooded, we
blaze in the flare that blinds us to that slow,
tall, fraternal fire of life as strong
now as in the seedling two centuries ago.

by Ursula Le Guin

Winding Road


The winding road I walk
wanders through country hedges
stuffed full of brambles and bomb-weed
across hay meadows to where
gauze mist veils distant hills.
Rust red cows huddle by a gate
tails swishing away flies
and rooks shout from their rookery
hurling bird banter from tall tree to tall tree.
Later the Sun will lower down to the west
shadows will merge and meld
owls will hunt. But now
rabbits nibble in golden light
and a peace settles deep inside.

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

The weird font is due to my struggles with the new block editor. 

Chalklands

Chalk undulates across Southern England
Hills, gentle yet steep
Can be overtopped by clay peppered with flints
So treasured by the old folk

As old as the hills is true here
The chalk is a two hundred million year ocean
Stiffened and folded over time
By our living planet

Several human species
Have hunted  in these valleys
Have dug into and sculpted these hills
Have left their ghosts for us to trace

The ancient monuments we treasure
Hill forts, stone circles, long barrows
Are but modern remnants
Compared to the first folk

My hills have deep roots

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Friday poem: Blackberry picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.
By Seamus Heany

Across the road

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.

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

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.”

Climbing a beech tree in your parents’ garden

A truly wonderful poem from Sarah Connor. Enjoy!:

Sarah writes poems

You will come to a place
where you can stop,
back pressed against the trunk –
a place where you can feel
your soft limbs branch and stiffen,
and the sap pulsing under
your skin, and all your thoughts
are nests and breezes,
and the taste of sunlight,
and the tree holds you here,
like a father holds a child –

Or maybe
your father hoists you up
onto his strong shoulders,
so you can peer through
the green leaves of his hair,
over the fence to where
next-door’s cat lolls in the sunshine
and the old lady jabs
at her flowerbed

and now two butterflies
spiral up towards you
and a bird swoops in
to land upon a twig

and no-one else can see
the tree-ness of you.

I’m hosting at earthweal this week, and asking you to think about how children connect with nature. Or adults, I guess. 

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The winding road


The winding road I walk
wanders through country hedges
stuffed full of brambles and bomb-weed
across hay meadows to where
gauze mist veils distant hills.
Rust red cows huddle by a gate
tails swishing away flies
and rooks shout from their rookery
hurling bird banter from tall tree to tall tree.
Later the Sun will lower down to the west
shadows will merge and meld
owls will hunt. But now
rabbits nibble in golden light
and a peace settles deep inside.

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond Last week the new block editor allowed me to select a font for my posts. this week, this is not possible. I'm stuck with this weird typewriter font!