Archives for posts with tag: nature
These exuberant blossoms were taken by Filipa van Eck. They appear courtesy of the photographer, who is by day and night a talented opera singer.

These exuberant blossoms were taken by Filipa van Eck. They appear courtesy of the photographer, who is by day and night a talented opera singer.

On March 2nd when I woke up, I opened my curtains as usual. My first view is of the neighbour’s tree at the bottom of the garden. What had been bare brown branches across the winter had exploded seemingly overnight into white blossoms. It felt as though spring come. The poem ideas started to percolate. Here is the first of two poems about this year’s spring blossoms:

March Burst

Anthers atop a filament;
eyelashes pink.
The blossoms have come!

11/3/2015

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
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Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

View of the Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica

By Ben Holt – National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (NASA (Image galleries)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


From night’s horizon
sweep in yowls and howls
across the polar plain.
Glacial blue dims.
The sharpest window opens above:
stars minted by the chill.


Today’s prompt for A Poem A Day October was, “Write a poem incorporating the concept of being ‘frozen,’ whether literal or not.”

All day I have been mulling over the idea of ‘frozen’ as a transition state of water, rather than a state of matters set. In preparation for my idea doodling, I found a recording of Sinfonia Antarctica (Vaughan Williams) on Spotify. An image search online yielded this Guardian photo-essay about spending 9 winter months in Antarctica at the Concordia Station. In the article, the clear view of the stars above earth is mentioned.


Twitter: @BeadedQuill
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Books

Colias croceus – the Clouded Yellow Butterfly. Image courtesy of Zeynel Cebeci via Wikimedia Commons.

I will be 80 this year
here in my flat
only a mile and a half
from where I was born.
I have tried 
to lead by example, by
plunging my narrow balcony
into the principality of hanging gardens.

Concrete is brutal.
It needs softening.
Plants should have dominion.

We breakfast amidst the crisp verdure
and watch a nesting bird,
fledgling wrens, butterflies 
and such wild visitors.
The flat faces of the 
daisies, pansies and geraniums 
accrue the afternoon and evening sun.
Most years –
A wren nests somewhere
blanketed by the ivy leaves.
Her fledglings zing past 
while we’re eating.
They’ll even call 
on us at table.
In warm summers,
the clouded yellow butterfly 
may join us from abroad.


Sometimes some quirky combination of words and images will capture my imagination. This time last year it was a comment in a Gudrun Sjödén catalogue about a Senegalese artist who sculpted birds from flotsam-and-jetsam.

Sunday last, the Guardian Weekend’s column “How does your garden grow?” hooked me. William Howard’s evocative interview about his balcony garden in the Barbican (London) – and the fantastic photograph of him in from of his verdant kingdom – had me enthralled. (Read the interview from the 28th June 2014 Guardian Weekend here.). “This garden,” explains Howard, “is about memories, sharing and reminding people to look – really look.”

Perhaps being a poet is in some respects like being a gardener.

(P.S. One of the most affecting books I read during my young adolescence was Rumer Godden’s An Episode of Sparrows, in which a scrabble of children try to grow a garden and learn how to look – really look.)

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

With appreciation to Val Ghose for use of the photograph. Original image to view on Wikimedia Commons.

With appreciation to Val Ghose for the image. Original on Wikimedia Commons.

They are tall
and have green eye-lids.
See how they blink 
at the sun.

trees


Being amongst trees makes my soul so happy. There are a number of woods where I live in London and I consider it my commute to work to walk through them when I have time set aside for writing. Below the Cape Town’s world renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, is a piece of land known as the Arboretum. As the name suggests, it is filled with trees. In the periods when I had my own transport and was a working gal in Cape Town, I took up tramping through the incline of the Arboretum as a Sunday ritual. For a long time I have turned to trees for solace.

The trees that really call me out of myself are the tall, old ones. They are such majestic beings.

When my father wasn’t well, one of my aunts sent me a postcard with a two wonderful lines about trees from a poem by an Irish poet. I propped the postcard up on my makeshift nature table/ altar amongst my treasured stones, pinecones and loved leaves. I tracked down the whole poem online and wrote it out. As it goes with such meanders, in the years that have passed and all my moves, I have mislaid the scrap of paper. But I often repeat the two remembered lines, “Those tall truths that tap and trap the sun”.

At this difficult time, I started to carry a call around with me, “May the peace of the tall, wise trees be with you.” Every time I saw a tree, I asked for perspective and wisdom. After all, some trees in our cities and suburbs have seen many more decades than we have. Many people have walked under their branches. They have shaded many incarnations of the road and pavement. Those tall truths have seen storms, sunshine, rain, troubles and peace.

Trees are incredible.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill 
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Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness

Image courtesy of Earthworm Society of Britain. E: info@earthwormsoc.org.uk

EARTHWORMS

Pink entrails of the earth rise,
half-drowned,
all-blind and writhing.
How unthinking 
and stupid these no-brained 
are!
Useless and flaccid 
after rain clogs
their soil-bed
and the scatter to the paths
to be baked by the sun,
eaten by birds 
and laughed at by big mouths above pounding feet
fed by the 1,750,000 other pink gyrators
which churn each fertile acre.


There are two language misuses that bother me a great deal. One is excessive hyperbole; the other is un-nuanced comparison in analogy, simile or metaphor. This poem is a response to equating a group of unfocussed people with ‘dumb, blind’ (and by suggestion useless) earthworms.

From my father I learnt that even the smallest, seemingly insignificant creatures have their place in the world. Earthworms in particular are supremely important and spectacular beings. While researching for this poem, I discovered that there are thousands of different earthworm species. The worms are of different colours and lengths. Some live in leaf litter rather than the soil, and in rare cases they even live in tree branches.

It is supremely anthropocentric to forget the workings that occur beneath our feet. Beneath a metre-squared of garden lawn, 20 to 40 earthworms will be at work. Even more humbling is that for every acre of fertile farmland, there are 1,750,000 earthworms working their way through the soil.

My Dad was fond of reminding me, “Ants know as much as they need to know to be ants.” Similarly, earthworms know and do as much as is required to be earthworms. They aerate the soil. They leave their casts to nourish the soil. Their bodies feed birds and other creatures. In amazing hermaphroditic wonder, they make more earthworms. What perfection!

Earthworms
move as they digest, digest as they move:
one intertwined perfected motion.
If our lives were so simple,
imagine how efficient we’d be.

By all means, one may label a group of people distracted and confused, but to liken them to earthworms is a misplaced simile that this poet cannot accept.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill 
Facebook: BeadedQuill 
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightnes:  Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012