This is a link to Houseboat poetry blog where one of my poems was just published: It’s the 4th poem on photo #21…
Holding Gold Dust
The kids are in the river, scooping up fry in the shallows,
Squashing half as they let them go again as we leave.
We try to release them alive, all the time remembering
When once, we could, well, afford to kill them
In their hundreds: seeing thousands more teem between
The rocks of even city rivers and streams.
Like we did with insects: snatching ladybirds and bees,
Finding moths and crane flies in bathrooms, woodlice
By the dozen, catching starlings, titmice and sparrows,
In traps and jars and crabs in buckets on the beach.
Such abundance we scattered shells like sand;
But soon, when the water is sterile if not dry
We will shake our heads and cry, understand,
When we were young we held gold dust in our hands.
I have no photos at all to illustrate this – I could post a photo of the gravel beach where the kids were scooping the minnows, but the city council have cleared away that beach now, to free up the stepping stone bridge before the winter floods, which had deposited the huge load of stones. The fish seem happy in the shallows now.
Anyway, you’ll either be familiar with the former abundance, and thus perfectly able to picture what I’m talking about, or you won’t…. in which case, I’m really sorry, but no photo I can post would do justice to what’s gone. Well, at least at the beach, most of us are able to spot a few crabs, and perhaps catch one or two, for a while to show the kids before letting them go again…
The title comes from a song by Tori Amos, who I’ve listened to since I was of an age where there was yet abundance! I heard of her from a friend just after Little Earthquakes came out. This is one of my favourite songs of hers, and one I wish we could all be mindful of – the things we had, the things we yet have in our hands, and we should care for like fallen nestlings.
Capturing Solar Dances
The sun, from its distant observation, shone
It’s light upon the far side of the moon,
Which hung out past our horizon;
A vast cloud bank over the mountains.
In the purple sky above a rising line of blue
Tinged yellow, the glow curled around
The curve of the moon – its back to Venus,
Reflecting the same light in
Full resplendence from much further away.
Had I had a camera, which could have
Captured the four Solar dancers
Through the window of the aeroplane
The way my eye did, well, it would have
Made a wonderful photo. But I didn’t.
Yet the scene is still forever captured;
Set in the store of my memory,
Seared upon my retina and etched
By my very nerve cells which shall
Never let me forget it.
I wrote this on the plane on the way to Israel last week as we flew the length of the Mediterranean. I had my phone on airplane mode, but it just couldn’t do the scene justice, so I didn’t even bother.
This year there is a lot of colza planted around Pamplona – canola oil plants, usually called oil seed rape (though that name is becoming unpopular for obvious reasons: Tisdale, in Canada, called the land of rape and honey is considering changing it’s motto…)
It’s a lucrative crop these days. Anyway, I’ve been driving and cycling and walking through these fields and they made an impact, so I wrote a poem.
Amid the Fields of Oil Seed Rape
I do not take a camera to the fields.
The country is too immense to condense
In a simple snapshot, or fifty.
Surrounded by a sea of yellow
I take only memories, including birdsong,
The touch of breeze in trees, carrying
Sugared scent of oil seed rape
Flowing over brows and filling senses
Such that only memory can contain.
but then I went an took a photo – doesn’t do it justice, though