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Sunday, 3 October 2010

A Living Thing


The chalk path like an old scar
ran jagged through the hills. On either side
the rivulets made suture marks where flesh,
millennia ago, was torn aside.
At least, that’s how I saw it then. Now looking back,
I see a living thing, a serpent
writhing in the clutch of stunning views.

That day, a dozen goddesses invited me
to walk their breasts, to fill my eyes
from skirts they’d spread a hundred feet
or more below my feet, skirts laid
with fruit and cereals of every hue:
ochres, greens and oranges, deep wells of blue,
impenetrable blacknesses and reds
as fresh and vivid as new wounds, I saw.
Silvers were there where sequined rivers ran
between deep banks of pewter, apricot and tan.
On days like that, one’s more alone
the nearer one approaches bliss.

And so, my loneliness was like a moorland fire:
slowly it had smouldered in the grass,
caressed the air - and seemed no more
than if a furtive lad had lit
a fag behind the woodhouse door.

A backpacker, she’d packed a punch
to spread the flames across a continent.
Our bodies, tinder dry, ignited in our bed.
The landscape changed as if to mourn the deed.
Dead trees became the norm. For days
they lined our path like flightless arrows
fallen from oppugnant skies. If they
were Cupid’s, they had missed their mark.

But we strode on, took all the mountains in our stride,
then strode on down to where
a cowpat landscape lay with dunghills at its back -
And there we whispered our goodbyes.

Alone again, I came upon the lake by night,
looked down upon it from The Devil’s Tooth,
saw charcoal waters imaging a mouth
that feasted on the sky.
Regulus, I saw, Denebola, both bright in Leo,
and the moon. Beyond them, wet with rain,
a glass town shimmered from a distant shore.
She called my name.
How had she come to know it?
Who was she? – And from where?

M87 is a black hole, man, three billion times
as heavy as our sun. The beetles rule the world:
two hundred families, each one
with thirty thousand species to its name!
Did you know that?

She kept it up
until we walked into the glass town hand in hand,
our bodies then a strange irrelevance. We overcame
their gravity. The lake - its lightness -
gave new meaning to our lives. Inevitable then,
that we should overstay its welcome.
As love gained strength the great lake shrank
and took on the dimensions of a glove.

But still I pulled it on each morning and gave thanks.
It had become for me what life had always been:
a detail etched upon a detail, a patch of light,
a soft complexion borrowed from a bank,
a ripple or the movement of a fish.
The lake no longer held the universe; Denebola
and Leo and the moon were gone.
Just one small detail (in her kidney) grew;
just one much larger detail died…
and all the skies that ever were came down into the lake,
and the lake dried.






Haiku #278


Death a major theme
Seamus Heaney's Human Chain.
It was news to him.

20 comments:

Rachel Cotterill said...

This flows in an interesting way between layers of metaphor and reality. Quite disorienting at times.

Gwei Mui said...

Oh such a rich and deep piece...
This is the stanza that really got to me
"That day, a dozen goddesses invited me
to walk their breasts, to fill my eyes
from skirts they’d spread a hundred feet
or more below my feet, skirts laid
with fruit and cereals of every hue:
ochres, greens and oranges, deep wells of blue,
impenetrable blacknesses and reds
as fresh and vivid as new wounds, I saw.
Silvers were there where sequined rivers ran
between deep banks of pewter, apricot and tan.
On days like that, one’s more alone
the nearer one approaches bliss."

Tabor said...

As a hiker and walker I interpret this as a very complex love scene of the earth and man/woman.

TechnoBabe said...

There is so much going on in your writing. This one is part sci-fi and earthy.

Kay said...

you are wise beyond my years...

Helen said...

For me? A love story of immense proportion! (I love Kay's comment .. one probably needs to live as long as you and I to gain all this wisdom?)

Madame DeFarge said...

Wow, really enjoyed the first one. Loved the imagery, very powerful.

Cait O'Connor said...

The chalk path like an old scar
ran jagged through the hills. On either side
the rivulets made suture marks where flesh,
millennia ago, was torn aside.
At least, that’s how I saw it then. Now looking back,
I see a living thing, a serpent
writhing in the clutch of stunning views.

That day, a dozen goddesses invited me
to walk their breasts, to fill my eyes
from skirts they’d spread a hundred feet
or more below my feet, skirts laid
with fruit and cereals of every hue:
ochres, greens and oranges, deep wells of blue,
impenetrable blacknesses and reds
as fresh and vivid as new wounds, I saw.
Silvers were there where sequined rivers ran
between deep banks of pewter, apricot and tan.
On days like that, one’s more alone
the nearer one approaches bliss.

I had to copy so I could re-read your words. Just beautiful.

readingsully2 said...

This is the most beautiful poem I have seen from you. Powerful, moving, and sad.

I saw it as a metaphor for life..a love story....a death.....and how that can change the world around us.

Windsmoke. said...

Phew!. It just kept going like a fast flowing river of the unexpected. Well done.

Dave King said...

Rachel
Yes, I think that's fair comment. It's roughly what was intended, so I find it very encouraging.

Gwei
Thanks for that, much appreciated. I have been having difficulty leaving comments on your blog Gwei. Shall try again later.

Tabor
Yes, I'll happily settle for that. Both those elements are there - or at least I had hoped they were, so many thanks.

TechnoBabe
Interesting. Earthy for sure, I didn't consciously include Sci-Fi elements, but the author doesn't always know what is in the work. Thanks.

Kay
Wise? Not a word universally applied to me, I think. But I thank you for it.

Helen
Well, I've accumulated much I would rather not have, so it's nice to think there's a plus side. Thanks.

Dave King said...

MadameDeFarge
Thanks very much for that.

Cait
I approve the choice!! (How could I not?) Many thanks.

readingsully2
Lovely comment. Thanks a lot.
I had hoped for all that. Really good to know that others see it there.

Windsmoke
Thanks. Glad you liked it.

Raj said...

Your purple prose gets ever more purply. loved it. every line was like a spark in an interna combustion engine. alive and catalysing.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Echoes from Coleridge in this poem Dave. I really enjoyed it.

Dave King said...

Raj
That's a great comment! Thanks.

Tommaso
Yes you're right enough about the echoes. I caught them too. Thanks. Thing is, though, I'm not a great fan of Coleridge - used to be.

Dave King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derrick said...

Can't but agree with what has already been said, Dave. I love the first three stanzas and there are so many vivid images within. Even such a simple line as "wet with rain,/a glass town shimmered from a distant shore." sounds magical!

Lucas said...

This is a nature poem with a modern feel to it: the way the surroundings are both full of bliss and also have a threatening quality which is echoed by the girl's story of a planet ruled by beetles.
It is very complex and yet full of sharply etched images: like the quite stunning,

As love gained strength the great lake shrank/
and took on the dimensions of a glove

There is much to dwell and return to.

Dave King said...

Derrick
Many thanks for ther comment. Much appreciated.

Lucas
Welcome to my blog and many thanks for stopping to make such a useful comment. All feedback is very much appreciated.

Erratic Thoughts said...

You are such a fine poet, Dave!
Poem shows the depth of your knowledge and how to maneuver it into a poem!
Finest of your work n it gets better!
"A backpacker, she’d packed a punch
to spread the flames across a continent." Nice :)

I am glad I read this, though belatedly...