The Poetry Bus Challenge was set this week at that intiruing site Don't Feed the Pixieso. It required an encounter with a sign, road sign or some such, and a response to it involving feelings hard to define.
I actually wrote this poem first in iambic pentameters, but then decided that it might be just the thing for a first experiment with something that had been buzzing around in my skull for some time: a genre all my own - unless you happen to know differently, in which case, bless you, my child or children! Basically it is the graphic novel in written form - and a good bit shorter! Each verse is a translation into written form of one frame. (Yes, I guess it could be thought a trifle ostentatious, but I wasn't going to let that put me off, now was I?) I was only partly correct in thinking it would suit the challenge - hence, for example, the "epilogue" and the difficulty with emotions. Seriously, though, I found it a breath of wind in the old sails, the shift of perspective, and it could be quite interesting to see how far it is possible to go with a purely visual (not to say "graphic") approach.
My thanks to our host and driver for an excellent and very stimulating challenge.
Two boys - me nine or ten,
Mick early teens -
leaving early in the morning
from a row of seven cottages.
No other habitations to be seen.
They come upon a bird's nest
in bracken by a hedge.
Skylark's! cries Mick triumphantly.
They hide themselves and watch
to see the mother bird's return.
The wait becomes a wait
to see who's using
the dead letter box -
and so the game begins.
They leave their hiding place
and come upon a stile,
beside a way mark arrow
and the words
To Dead Man's Finger.
Mick grins, his finger to his lips.
The next day and the next
they pause beside the stile.
Mick repeats the gesture.
Too far, he says.
I can not pull myself away.
Each evening in the cottage
I draw from my mind's eye
the rock formation: vertical
for climbing to the clouds
or bent and beckoning.
My Aunt inspects my work,
misses the signals in my face
like those from Gran's old-time religion:
excitment, fear and puzzlement?)
Don't be going there!she grumps.
Trudging gloomily the skirts of
empty fields, they reach
another pause... consulting maps,
so obviously lost,
not knowing what to do.
Mick's footsteps lighten
as he points across the field.
A blackened tree beyond the hedge.
Dead Man's Finger, see? he says.
Adds Lightning! with a grin.
Two sticks of charcoal:
thumb and finger
beside three stumps
where once a hand would be.
A million years and light years later
with the Blitze of London done,
I ask myself who might have thought
to way mark such a thing
away from busy paths -
and why? In war time too!
Late in the day
if Mick, my cousin,
told me wrong.
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