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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Two Poems on Borders


To Jarman the Spoils
A poem on Borders for dVerse Poetics

There is a border somewhere here
somewhere the garden ends.
Sea-carved timbers, salt-encrusted ropes become
our timbers and our ropes, not his.

But he has made them his,
he found them like stray puppies on the beach,
gave them a home, a focus, made
of them a focus in their turn. Now out of reach
he is the most important piece of flotsam here.
He broke away, jumped ship
found freedom in the waves this stony
wilderness affirms. His vision
has survived the storms,
the brooding threat of nuclear disaster.*
Against all this it is a vision that
remains intact for us.



*The atomic power station, also on the beach.
Read more on Jarman and his home here
The image is from Google Earth.

The Mud Pond
A drizzle and a slant of light,
a watercolour landscape dunked
before the paint had dried
and somewhere there, between the front door
and the tethered donkey by the distant kerbside
was a border of white stones.
Now in someone's rockery most like.

Nearest to the house, the apple trees.
Most likely garden, so we thought -
although the bramble scrawl was thickest there,
like scribble over text we could not read.
Here too, the thistles at their tallest,
fleshiest and toughest yet,
the perfect substitutes for razor wire.

Further out, they thinned, merged with the crowds:
the long grass, daisies, dandelions and vetch.
Halfway to the donkey a small pond, now fenced
with floral tributes to the child who'd died,
still there in place, still tied
with ribbons to its posts.

This must be common land, for here
the people tie their animals
but where the border is is mystery.
Who owns the pond
has some responsibility
but deeds are silent and the parties disagree.

16 comments:

Claudia said...

wondering if the second poem has a political heartbeat...seems like the stream is running deeper than what is visible on the surface..
and def. need to check out jarman...seems to be an interesting story...much enjoyed both of your poems david

Jim Murdoch said...

Since he “broke away, jumped ship” should he not be jetsam since flotsam is floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo whereas jetsam is part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is purposefully cast overboard? I’m being pedantic I know. Other than that I quite like it. The second poem has a bit too much description for me I’m afraid.

Leatherdykeuk said...

I've always loved the garden of DerekJarman. I first saw it in the eighties, when he was still alive.

Brian Miller said...

A drizzle and a slant of light,
a watercolour landscape dunked
before the paint had dried

fascinating description in your second verse there dave...i am a sucker for that...and there seems to be a bit more as well..

Tabor said...

Sea-carved timbers, salt-encrusted ropes become
our timbers and our ropes, not his.

I wonder if in some way that is like many borders.

Laurie Kolp said...

Enjoyed both of them, Dave...

JeannetteLS said...

"Nearest to the house, the apple trees./Most likely garden, so we thought -/although the bramble scrawl was thickest there,/like scribble over text we could not read."

That bit and the part Brian quoted--those descriptions sent me far away, just dreaming a moment of the place, before I re-engaged with the trip you took us on.

And then you mentioned daisies, dandelions and vetch--and I wandered to the wildflower walks with my grandmother.

The wanderings enriched the scene for me so the tributes to the child who'd died stopped me in my tracks.

Once again, you got me. In all the good ways. I continue to love my travels with you, Dave. THank you.

Mary said...

You are so good at describing natural settings, Dave. I feel like I am there with you, and you are leading me on a tour.

Daydreamertoo said...

This reminds me of our old rambles we used to have over everyone else's land as kids and not have to worry if we were trespassing, unless we found a sign that said "no trespassing" The fences we came across all seemed to be lost among the briers and brambles and mix of blackberry bushes and weeds. This took me right back there.
I once went to Dungeness and was right up close to the power plant there on the beach.
Very nice read, thank you.

Ygraine said...

I so enjoyed these poems, Dave.
In the second one, 'with floral tributes to the child who'd died' really touched my heart, because I too have lost a child.

Raivenne said...

Your descriptive of natural settings is wonderful. I enjoyed both writes.

hedgewitch said...

lord, David--both of these are good. The second is just transcendent, with an almost eerie sense of place and that closing image of some truths being hinted but never known or said--and your piece on Jarman, gardener that I am, really resonated. Thanks for the introduction to his work, which can truly be said to have crossed many borders.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Tremendous impact of images Dave. These two poems remind me of the atmosphere in which one of the first poems I have ever written in English ( Outpost ) was born:

Here too, the thistles at their tallest,
fleshiest and toughest yet,
the perfect substitutes for razor wire.

Maybe it's the energy, and love for life, that makes one want to be familiar with the wilderness... these are great lines.

I'll soon put "Outpost" in my blog in order to feel close to them.

Conda V. Douglas said...

I've been a lurker for quite a while, Dave, too much going on in my life! But I had to comment on the great balance between these two strong poems.It's difficult enough to write one poem but two and have them work together?!

Windsmoke. said...

Both poems are enjoyable :-).

Dave King said...

Claudia
Yes, well spotted. A story that I heard about grafted on to a description of a place I know. The Jarman story is fascinating. Hope you enjoy your delving.

Jim
Ah, two different means to "broke away" me thinks. I guess you could argue it either way, but my dictionarys says flotsam is wreckage, jetsome stuff flung overboard by the crew, usually to lighten the ship in a storm or whatever. Jarman can't be described as wreckage. Threw himself overboard?
I think it's the closer of the two.

Leatherdykeuk
Yes, inspirational in my view!

Brian
Thanks Brian. Not sure what "the bit more" might be... but good to know you're a sucker for it!

Tabor
Ah, now you're getting very close to an ancient hobby horse of mine! Thanks for re-implanting the thought.

Laurie
Thank you.

JeanetteLS
Very many thanks for this lovely response. I know those wanderings in the midst of reading poetry. I sometimes return and have to start the reading again, but rarely regret it. Thanks for saying this , it goes some way to reassuring me that my wanderings are not just down to old age!

Mary
This, too, is a great response to make. Thank you for it.

Daydreamertoo
Thanks for saying this. It is very rewarding sometimes to realise the connections that are made. Much appreciated.

Ygraine
Another example really, thoughan extremely sad one, of the sort of connectivity mentioned by Jeanette and Daydreamertoo. You don't say how long ago this was, but I am very sad to hear of it. Every blessing to you and yours for the future.

Raivenne
Hi, and welcome to the blog. Thank you for your kind words.

hedgewitch
Thank you for your brilliantly sympathetic comments, they are very much appreciated. I would especially like to endorse the sentiments on Jarman's work in your final sentence.

Tommaso
I think I agree that it might be a love of life that motivates us to seek the wilderness. Thank you for your comments. I shall look forward to reading "Outpost".

Conda
Thank you so much for this comment. It is great to hear from you again. I'm afraid I have been doing my own fair share of lurking.

Windsmoke
Much thanks. Appreciated.