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Friday, 2 March 2012

how deep a plum was then!

My thanks to Claudia at dVerse Poetics Pub - Translucent Poetics : Writing the spoken word, for this prompt.
It was my tree.
Here, in my mind it was my tree,
for planted on the day that I was born.
I first and best remember it
when it and I were five.
My first excursion into it
(with someone holding me),
the earliest of sensual memories: 
allowed to pick the plums,
those velvet bombs of taste,
incendiaries of colour,
soft waxy reds and yellows,
purples, blues and indigoes.
Those plums, those sweet Victorias!

I found that you could spit
and rub them with your thumb,
make lines and other subtle colours rear
their lovely heads. You made a sort of map.
Inside, you'd find the prize: a golden flesh,
juice-filled, that squirted when you bit.

Later on, and maybe six, the hands
still round my waist, my head now full
of stories from the war, Atlantic
convoys and the like, I found
that if you bit the seam from end to end,
the squirting juice could easily
become a depth charge in your mouth.
Then if you gently squeezed the base,
the sharp stone surfaced like a crippled submarine.

This is a rewrite of part of a poem - rather too long and too opaque. One of the first I posted.

25 comments:

Mary said...

Interesting how real life war happenings influenced and saturated your feelings about the plums when you were six years old, Dave. Children are SO impacted by war, in ways that we don't even usually think about.

Kat Mortensen said...

Loved this:
"those velvet bombs of taste,
incendiaries of colour,"

"the squirting juice could easily
become a depth charge in your mouth."

And really LOVED this:
"sharp stone surfaced ... submarine."


Oh, wow! I think Keats has just paid a visit to your brain, Dave, but somewhere along the way, he got pulled into another dimension and landed in the British Army!

I can't help but wonder where you and Keats would go with the squashed fruit made into jam?

(I have got to get to the grocery store now and buy some plums.)

Daydreamertoo said...

What a fabulous write Dave. It's amazing what our taste buds remember of happy times, isn't it!
Yours sound lovely.

Brian Miller said...

you use language very well dave....using war language to accentuate something else bring s a nice layer to this....and you capture well the taste and flavor of the experience...

Laurie Kolp said...

Now I must go and eat a plum... = )

Hannah Stephenson said...

We are really THERE with you. It's like you rewound your memory, and played it back in slow motion.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Love it Dave- I can taste those plums.

dark Angel said...

I love the contrast between the war imagery and the sweet childhood plum images. "those velvet bombs of taste" love that.

Steve King said...

This reflects the subject of the prompt. Great use of details. The lines, aside from having a rhythm and pace that makes for easy reading aloud, has rich imagery and colors. Very interesting turn to the war imagery. Nice work on this piece.

kaykuala said...

A nice twist to relate the squishy plums to the serious business of killings. You could remember all these since age six. Just shows the sufferings of war etched a lasting memory which we would rather not have. Great write Dave!

Hank

Claudia said...

smiles...yes Ami offered up a great article...and i like what you did in response...the contrasts play very well - both real and deep emotions and feelings...and i also like the idea of growing up with a tree somehow...nice..

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Fantastic. A poetic analysis which,with the last line captures the essence of the action and reminds me of the atmosphere of a poem that has come back to me in these days: "Snow" by Louis MacNiece.

Wolfsrosebud said...

I loved how you reveal the relationship with the tree from little on... then moved us to other aspects of life... sometimes we forget the mind of a child

adan said...

really liked the clarity of the images and sensations, brought to mind so many childhood tree-plantings, food chewing explorations, mind was with carrots ;-)

thanks dave!

Yousei Hime said...

Beautiful, and even better read aloud. Thank you.

The Elephant's Child said...

It was peaches in my head. I loved the links with fruit and war. A friend of mine had made a rule that her son could have no guns. Ever. She gave up when she found him (four or so) biting a carrot into a gun shape and firing it at her.

pandamoniumcat said...

Enjoyed this, quite yummy! We had plum trees growing down our street on the grass verge. As kids we were forever picking those blood red plums... so nice to eat and they were effective missiles at times. Really loved that last stanza, the rising of a crippled submarine.

Charles Miller said...

This has the voice and tone of a person so pulled into life and its deepest simplicity that a tree and a plum can be a mystery. And we are entranced by their love of the thing, almost the thing itself, what is or should be if we only lived deeper, more aware.

Jenny Woolf said...

I like it. Specially the idea of a stone surfacing, that feeling of surprise as it appears.

Bodhirose said...

Interesting how the war colored and changed the experience...I like how you did that.

Caty said...

I like this, and the relationship you and the tree share :)

Dave King said...

Mary
I feel slightly guilty about it now, but I loved the war. It entered our games a great deal. Even the air raids were fun - and very exciting. And there was always lots of shrapnel to collect next morning. There was one famous occasion, when I was off school with some complaint. I was in the garden when I heard the engine of a V1 cut out. Looking up, it seemed to be coming straight for us. I ran in, shouting for my mum to take cover, but she was upstairs hoovering and couldn't hear me. The V1 hit the post office at the end of the road - in which my mum would have been if I had gone to school. Looking back, I don't remember any fear. It was just exciting.

Kat What a lovely set of comments. You flatter me too much, but I also find them stimulating in a surreal sort of way. I'm just wondering what my gran - the jam maker - would think of the keats angle. Thanks for this.

Daydreamertoo
Yes, like the sense of small, they can trigger all sorts. But why aren'y Victorias the same now?

Brian
Thanks for this observation. I hadn't thought of it quite in those terms, but now that you have I find the thought intriguing.

Laurie
Enjoy!

Hannah
Very is all it does these days, I'm afraid!

Weaver of Grass
sometimes I still can as well. Powerful influence, childhood.

Steve
Hi Steve, good to have your visit and comment. Very much appreciated.

Dave King said...

Kaykuala
Like all my childhood memories (like everyone's maybe) they are vivid islands in a very foggy sea. I was, though, quite unaware of the suffering side of war. I don't remember that hitting me until I began to see the pictures of the liberation of Belsen and the other camps. Everything changed then.

Claudia
Yes, sorry. I somehow overlooked the fact that Ami had posted it and thought you had done so.

Tommaso
Mmmm, time to reread Snow, I think. Thanks for this.

Wolfsrosebud
Thank you for your thoughtful response. It is really good to have.

Adan
Ah, yes. I remember carrots. Raw. Chewing them on the way to school. Night fighter pilots eat them, I was told. They allowed you to see in the dark.

Yousei
Much thanks for this. Pleased to hear that you thought so.

The Elephants Child
My daughter tried so hard with her two boys to ban guns. I think it more or less worked with the first, but his younger brother was too determined. Grew up with a passion to join the marines.

pandamoniumcat
Welcome and thank you for your contribution. I couldn't bring myself to use MY plums as missiles. I do remember using prunes, though! Not so effective, obviously.

Charles
Thanks for this. Yes, you are so right with this. Whenever I look back I have that feeling to some degree or other.

Jenny
I thought I had made the disovery of the century!

Bodhirose
Mmm , I'm sure it was a two-way thing, though: the plums also coloured the war and helped to make it a fun thing. Good to have you visiting. Thank you for your observation.

Caty
A warm welcome and many thanks for your kind words.

Ygraine said...

I adore these poems of your childhood memories.
Such vividly remembered experiences could be woven into a really great novel :)

ds said...

This is wonderful. I love "those velvet bombs..." the war imagery brings your childhood to life, the undercurrents...Bravo!