Mr J. Frost was up to his business last night and what a wonderful job he did.
I just had to pull over on the school run this morning to take these.
Home Thoughts From Home
(… after Browning)
Oh… To be left in England now that June is here…
While you stroll coral shores, dance Carnivale,
eyes alight with scarlet Flamboyante and flaming
Immortelle, almond Frangipani carried on warm winds,
I drag the dogs along the dank railway cut, tiptoe
single-file slippy moss-clung sleepers, the earth
swamp-like after a month of rain, steam rising,
a tentative sun learning, shyly, how to shine again.
But the leaf-dark tunnel opens on to dazzle-white
sky and a sweeping bank of nodding Ox-eye Daisies
takes my breath away, twizzle, twirl, like a gorgeous
throng of lissome girls dancing to a midsummer song.
I stand, mesmerised by their grace, gaze awhile
through tearful eyes. And listen! The bees drone low,
the birds sing high, the Elderflower thrusts its scent
into the breeze. Even the blooming nettles shout – Truce!
Fescue, Sedge, Feathered, Tufted, Velvet, Bearded,
Silver-hair, Silky-bent, Frogspit, knee height, taller
than me, grey-green, yellow-green, blue-green, lilac,
grasses, grasses – the more I look, the more I see.
Ribwort Plantain bee-bodies hover, purple Vetch tendrils
trail through Teasels, fuscia Clover rubs shoulders
with Buttercups, Rose Campions rise amidst drifts
of forget-me-nots and even bluer, the Periwinkles wink.
Glossy Hartstongue ferns adorn Jurassic iron-stone walls,
beetroot Cranesbill blossoms In dark cracks and fissures,
dainty lemon Lady’s slippers peep through Maidenhair,
and everywhere the blushing rose twines its sinuous limbs.
The dogs return, rain-slick, backs sprinkled with stars –
a million diminutive pearl-white sticky-weed flowers,
so tiny you’d miss them if you blinked and they shake,
sending them scattering all along the fern-splayed path.
We walk back home, spirits lifted as high as the sun
we can almost glimpse through this misty morning sky.
You can keep your attention seeking O’Keefe exotica…
I have my quiet, innocent, Browning England, my dear.
On the first warm day they grow for broke,
poke soft tips through the solid earth,
unfurl tender buds, hopeful,
a new spring in the offing.
They toke on fear
devil may care,
too young to even register risk,
the unknown the frisson, the thrill.
But she lies in wait, capricious,
wrest to kill,
a chill wind waiting to breeze
uninvited into a conversation
or a situation,
on a whim.
Just when you feel sure-footed
she’ll outwit you.
They know this,
yet they heed not learn not care not.
Their need to stretch their limbs toward the sun
is tantamount. So…
They laugh in her face,
throw caution to her wind
and seize the day.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Another seasonal and previously published offering… I remember both the evenings that inspired this poem quite intensely at this time of year; two very special times separated by almost thirty years.
Talkin Tarn is a small lake in the Cumbrian Fells where I grew up and in the coldest of Winters it would freeze over…
Stumbling forth much cider-addled
swaddling-wrapped in Christmas cheer,
festive tunes beat marching rhythms
sung by luteous fuzz-blurred moon.
Light our tallow-faced meanderings.
Light our way to Talkin Tarn.
Hill-top guardians, black-limbed stanchions,
iron giants, arms outstretched,
spitting fizz, bright brittle crackling
arcs electric, purple hiss.
Walk the line of skeletal monsters.
Walk the line to Talkin Tarn.
Snow lined hollow, sleepy sheep all
fallow-buff like sugar lumps
fuddle thrown, sweet huddle-muddled
piled in china, white as bone.
Trudge our way in caravan.
Trudge our way to Talkin Tarn.
Bristled tines, pine scented arbour
succours snowy lunate shore,
underboot, soft-footed needlings;
seriatim rendered mute.
See the glistery icy vista,
see the mystery. Talkin Tarn.
Moon-loon madness overtaking,
dancing arm-linked can-can craic,
thwacking echo, snap-snap bull-whip
ricochet deep down below.
Risk life’s brittle carapace.
Risk the kiss of Talkin Tarn.
Snowdrops by A.D.Miller
Well… it didn’t win the Man Booker and that was definitely the correct decision, in my opinion. It’s interesting, I’ll give it that, but I’m surprised it even reached the shortlist.
Mr Miller’s sentence structure is also interesting. I found his syntax irritating for the first quarter of the book and then, I suppose, I got used to it. Sometimes his writing came across as quite amateurish and at others he paints an amazingly vivid picture in a few, bright words. His imagery also veers from the sublime to the naff. I’ve just started looking through it again for some examples, but as I said, I got used to it and second time round I couldn’t find any. Odd though, for all the way through his phrasing often pulled me up, made me read again- it wasn’t a smooth journey and I didn’t altogether feel in safe hands.
The blurb says it’s irresistable, sophisticated, compelling, electrifying, gripping…
I found it none of these, but I did read to the end.
It’s a rather sordid tale of deception centred around a weak, ineffectual, self absorbed yet basically un-self aware and dishonest chap who I didn’t much like and didn’t much care about and two hard-nosed, stereotypical bitches.
I think what disappointed me was that there were no surprises. The tone was set from chapter one and we ended up exactly where we imagined we would. I also found his asides to his potential wife-to-be rather sad and annoying. I hope she ditched him like a freshly scooped up dog-shit in a polythene bag!
The story does not contain any great intrigue and I found his explanations of the final denouement over complicated. It wasn’t, after all, a crime that required either huge intellect or great cunning. But I got the gist, which was quite enough.
What shone through quite exceptionally however, was Moscow. By the last chapter I could smell, taste, hear, see, feel and sense the place. It really got under my skin. I finished the book feeling rather wistful that I’d never visited it during those crazy years and also completely relieved that I’d been lucky enough to avoid it. Its setting is Snowdrops’ triumph.
Read it for sure, but it’s not my favourite. I’ll gladly debate it’s merits with anyone whose opinion differs from mine.
I’ve been appreciating the wonders of modern technology over the last week. Skype. (We’ve tried face-time too, while giggling over it’s sexual innuendo- or is that just us? But have not managed to connect yet…) My man and I, four thousand miles apart, yet still able to look upon each other… and smile. He’s well, ergo so am I. Lots of photos have been winging both ways over the atlantic and keeping in touch is… Well, it’s nice. So nice. Just nice. Nice.
I’ve had some gorgeous walks with the dogs over the last few days. One of our favourites is down an old railway cutting that was once blasted through ancient granite walls. They have since been revealed to be chock-full of fossils. It’s impassable in the summer months due to seven foot high nettles and brambles but it’s all been recently cleared and the Autumn die-down is helping too. The dogs love it and Bruce invariably catches a rabbit or unearths his own fossilised remains. Yum!
Back home, I’ve been nesting; spring cleaning six months too late or six months too early, which ever way you choose to look at it. I’ve blitzed almost every room in the house, clearing, sorting, moving, re-arranging and it feels good. Still got a way to go but I’m in the mood for change!
I’ve been writing lots as usual, plus some editing, re-writing, re-thinking and getting things out of the way in time for November and NaNoWriMo. Exciting. I’ve got an all day poetry course tomorrow at DMU which I’m really looking forward to and my Monday night class is keeping me busy, so not much time for sleep, even though my bedroom looks so inviting now with its fairy lights and its new vistas and its winter duvet…
Today Julius and I spent a super afternoon walking round the Botanic Gardens in Leicester for their annual sculpture exhibition which closes at the end of the month. It was recommended to me by my poetry friends at the Leicester Stanza. A pamphlet of poems written on the exhibition will be produced so I thought I’d take a look and see if I found inspiration amidst the bronze, the marble, the rusty old iron, the resin and of course, nature…
It’s well worth a visit. Here are some of my favourites. There were over fifty exhibits so this is only scratching the surface. I’ll write more about them next week.
Spiral- Richard Thornton
First Step Into The Next Decade- Brele Scholz
Narcissus- Susan Forsyth
Seated Couple- Lynn Chadwick
Lion 1- Lynn Chadwick (and Julius… our very own Daniel)
Soaring Figure- Rick Kirby
Didn’t photograph this one’s name or title, sorry…
My Fat Angel- Mary Anstee parry
And last but not least, the piece I found most intriguing and hence the one I shall probably write a poem about…
Waiting- John W Mills
Decision of the evening… which book next? Think it’ll have to be the Julian Barnes. My copy is a divinely petite hard back with a beautiful dust cover scattered with dandelion clocks and floating seeds and the pages are all edged in black. Delightful. I’ll review it here soon.
And see you soon too x
P.S. Skype… God how I love you… and how I love my man!
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