And It’s Glorious
The storm has eased, eventually.
Though cold, trees still, dripping yet,
Leaves left, strewn upon the street:
Sheets of gold and ochre. Streams of
Sticks and twigs clog the gutters,
Grown to spreading pools, reflecting
Gorgeous tempest survivors overhead.
And it’s glorious: a rare, raw, glimpse
Of our world without the concrete.
At least until the sweepers resume,
Scouring nature with their plastic brooms.
Been reading this book,
It’s pretty informative.
And it inspired the following poem…
Along with this little guy…
My youngest child, holding his newest toy,
Up overhead, like a talisman: a soft doll
Sewn in the shape of a turbaned genie,
Pronounced his wishes would the words
Only carry the power of the fable.
“I would have Geniousious – its given name –
Kill Putin, and make it not be able
To have any animal in danger of extinction.”
A sad assertion for a six-year-old.
Which sunk my soul deeper into my bowels.
From reading an outline of human history
From the fall of the Roman Empire to
The fall of the Third Reich, I could
Summarise the centuries of papal succession
Crusaders and invaders swaying
To and fro, back and forth over the soil,
Staining with flesh and blood the Earth,
Sweeping millions to their massacres,
In thrusting, thirsting, for supremacy,
In short sentences: shit happened
That never should have, had we only
Stayed on the savannah with mere spears.
The bastard causing my son such sadness
And the statement bringing me to tears
Is just the latest in a long list, I insist:
He is not alone. Regardless of their tone
The rest of the pantheon are playing
As if the planet is actually replaceable
Or simply a stepping-stone to the next
Star system they can subjugate.
Too late to save those of the second wish
From their fate: the genie would have to
Hold the secret of time, to travel back
To the time of tribes seeking new lands,
Stop seafaring, sledding, steel science…
The systems we created to control
Have slipped from our own, and seem
Destined to deliver us back our destiny:
We shall stumble, back to our beginnings
As just another species on a rock
Awash with water and organic molecules
Transforming from one shape to another
As all are eaten, even the ones with weapons,
Until our form of life dies out, along with lots
Of other sorts, and some others evolve, I surmise,
We shall suffer, I am grieved to say, son, for
We are already, sliding, and, Jesus wept,
Seem inept at dodging, not just bullets aimed at us,
But oncoming steam engines of our own devising,
From far off with a blinding light beckoning at us.
We sleepwalked into a new disease creation,
Let it clutch enough of us so it shall cling on
Like a long list of poxes yet to appear, but near.
The heat waves and fires washing over white houses
Have had no effect on our behaviour any more
Than the waves of refugees fleeing from its results:
Even now the crisis erroneously seen as rideable
Rather than a rising tide set to swamp.
The swimmers so far stamped upon by standers, yet,
Littering the sand, shall pile up like plastic:
Become numbers on an ever longer set of statistics,
Of deaths, in the desert resulting from our
Immoral immigration legislation, letting
Famine fell far more than the virus, multiples
Of anything we’ve seen over the millennia
Of Mongols and Huns and Hitler’s gas and guns.
The lessons of History seem serving only to
Prepare some for the suffering to come:
Send us into the trees yet green to gather up
The tiny glories all around us while we can;
Create a wealth of memories with one another which
Might help us weather better our dour destiny,
Hoping we’re able to die a natural death
From mere bad health before it all dissolves.
And if there’s a third wish left upon the table,
Let it be this: that my children stay off such lists,
And choose to spread ideas instead of seed:
Leave poems, not progeny, for words
Do not suffer such as sentient beings shall.
I haven’t even finished reading the book…
This is the page I am on now – coincidentally in a chapter on the Spanish Civil War….
I read this headline today in my local newspaper. It translates to “the Navarra shop owners are against Sanchez’s measures to save energy. Some foresee insecurity if the shop windows have no lights after ten pm.”
The photo caption reads “Complaints about the heat in the market.”
This photo here is some storm clouds gathering over the dry dry (and, as you know, quite extensively burnt) landscape I stare out over every evening as I sit and write.
I’ve posted this photo because there is a fucking storm brewing. The actual storms come stronger than ever, and they do little to help the thirsty land compared to the rain we used to have in Spain.
But also, it’s very beautiful.
And soon enough we might only see beauty up above the landscape, because the landscape will cease to be beautiful by itself.
That newspaper headline tells us how quickly that might happen…
We can not even turn down the AC. We can’t even agree to turn off the lights, the ones that aren’t even being used… (I wrote a poem about that, actually, which I must post some time.)
And that’s to just lower energy use by 15% so we can help the rest of Europe, which will have a colder winter than we will in Spain.
In a war.
How can we hope to avoid the worst of Climate Change in light of this kind of stupidity?
I, as you can see from the poem, fail to have much hope at all.
The Enjoyment of Spring
February leaves light frost on the park grass,
But the birdsong cutting the chill silence belies
This skin of sparkling crystals; harkens from
Recently breakfasted birds animated to action
As the era of excitement approaches, already
Cold soil broken by budding narcissus prepared to
Perform their demure golden pouts and beside
The warming morning rays upon me shows
The strengthening sun will soon scatter the ice
And afternoon will even induce disrobing, thus
Dallying in sun-drenched dales.
Yet, still, I feel
Almost ill at enjoying these delightful days when
We know elsewhere gale forced storm surges
Swamp grasslands with salt, wind whip trunks
Down like twigs, just as most we need them
Growing. The mountain slopes are bare of snow:
Instead several fires on-going, and a bushel
Of other evils await.
Even here, these trees
Are leaving too soon; petals, peeping weakly
Into shape shall feed few bees this spring,
And we fear for their fruits come summer.
For the grass beneath the white seems damp,
But even the soil is dry, and blades soon scorched
As we wait for rains, disappeared more than delayed,
During a drought seeming set to last till March.
I wrote this poem after a pause in the park on the way to work, the same day I saw this video of the storm surge back in Ireland where they were hit by several named storms while our farmers in Spain were desperate for rain.
The Smell of Rain
Like many in my situation, living as an emigrant, I’ve been wondering about when I’ll get home, and certain things make me think of Ireland…
The Smell of Rain
Not the petrichor: that scent at
The first few splats of heavy plashes
As a high cloud unburdens its humid load,
Stinging the nose with its distinctive smell,
Nor the nostril flaring storm at first,
Suddenly splashing the unsuspecting
Then spattering along the streets,
As if to sweep them from the scene,
To shelter and, swiping eyes, appreciate
The spectacle. Not either the drizzle,
Softly seeping into hair and shoulders,
Seemingly seeking to stay aloft like fog,
Hovering above the soil as if unimpressed
With landing, but accepting settling
On stems and leaves, leaving shoes
Darkened should one step through the grass.
None of these, is the smell that sparks
My senses, resurrects memories.
But later, when it’s soaked in after
Several repeated storms, then
The smell of wet earth, seeps
Into sinuses, springing forth
Almost feared forgotten scenes
Of rolling streams through soggy ground,
Sodden peat and spongy moss,
The sparkle of water wringing the island
From sunlit rainbow down to buried rock,
Reminding me of Ireland, only Ireland.
“You just had to be there.” Attempting to describe something indescribable.
As writers, poets, we often have to describe a scene, or try to. Sometimes the scene is invented, but we also borrow real experiences for our fiction, and we strive to faithfully put down words that will at least echo the actual situation we saw.
Nowadays we can take photos of most things. We can video a bit of a concert (though I much rather just watch) or take a panoramic shot of the top of a mountain. This helps convey to others the kind of experience you’ve had.
And sometimes that’s just impossible. There are things for which you just had to be there. And among those who were there, the phrase, “remember that time…” will always come up.
I had one of those last night.
The Perseid meteor shower was supposed to make lots of shooting stars, but it was cloudy. I went outside to read my book and wait to see if the sky would clear.
I’m in a village with 5 streetlights a mile from the next 5 streetlights and 20 from the city, so it’s pretty dark and we can see the Milky Way on a clear night.
Off to the north east a row of storms lit up the sky. They must have hung all along the Pyrenees, because though the wind was coming from that direction and I could hear the windmills on the hills between me and the lightening, I could hear no thunder.
And there must have been constant thunder, for the lightening never stopped. For the whole hour or more I was there I did not count more than a second and a half between flashes.
I’d never seen such a spectacle. It was like natural fireworks, like a light show at a concert but traced across a swath of sky, like there was a battle of the Gods taking place. Each flash illuminated a different section of cloud, their formations changing all the time.
And the strange thing was that up above me the sky was perfectly clear. I could see the Milky Way; though waiting for shooting stars was hard with the distraction and the light “pollution” from the show.
Taking a photo, or trying to, would be silly. I did try to record some video, but the camera could not do justice, so I turned it off.
There are some things you don’t really want to share with anyone. Like a cup of tea at dawn in the countryside, letting the first sunrays heat your back, watching dozens of swallows warm themselves on the telephone wires and listening to the drone of bees already in the lavender.
And there are others that you just have to share with someone, just so that someone else can verify how amazing the thing was that you saw, so that everyone can’t just dismiss it as imagination or exaggeration or wishful thinking.
Last night was like that.
I shared it with my mother-in-law.
My wife was too tired to stay out very long, so I told my parents-in-law to come out from the television and see the spectacle. My mother-in-law had never seen anything like it in the seventy years she lived in that village. We stood leaning on the garden gate and marvelled at it, listening to the crickets and cicadas in the balmy night.
And then, right in front of the lightening, we saw the biggest, brightest, longest-lasting shooting star I’ve probably ever seen, at least in twenty years. We both cried aloud and were glad neither of us had missed it – though it would be bard to miss, for it was long enough that you could have turned around and still caught the end of it.
When she reluctantly went inside, I shared the night with a glass of whiskey and watched for another half an hour. The sky above me eventually began to cloud over, and the storm cloud thicken, so the flashes were more hidden, and I decided to call it a night. And then, just as I turned, and though the sky was hazy then, another shooting star passed in front of me. It wasn’t as bright because of the cloud, but I could distinctly see the smoke trail it left behind it.
I’ll never see a show like that again, I’m sure, but as I watch the swallows take off in droves this morning, I know I was privileged to have seen it at all.