Time Change Evolution - this week's challenge set by NanU, who is driving the poetry bus for a second week.
The day begins
fishing with my largest net
and paddling along the bank.
A lot of wash from passing boats.
lost in thought and coming
unaware to where
the bank and bed together
form a slide of slimy clay.
I'm in the water grasping the net
as though my life depended
on it. Floundering.
Far out. Beyond my depth.
My Gran is picnicking and has not seen.
Somehow I splash and thrash
and find the bank.
Bedraggled find my Gran who loses it
divests me of my clothes.
replaces them with her great ginger fur...
Why fur on such a sunny day?
How should a lad
who is not yet out of shorts,
but out of salts, know that?
Homeward on the bus. The 152.
Hampton Court and Home are its two termimi
(that fact essential to this treat:
to climb aboard, to be
the very first, and wait for it to go).
Upstairs. Front seat. The way we came.
The way we always travel for this trip
but doubly necessary now
to hide the shame of wearing Granma's coat.
This much is what the world already knows.
Now hear the missing seconds tick away.
buzz and smudge
I side between them as between two sheets
two seconds or two hours
to swallow water thrash
of arms and legs. I see
the sky below faces
peering up at me blurred indistinct
and one of them my gran?
picks his way into my brain
enters through my ears
then hammers to get out
the buzz or the water unburdens itself
plays on a vinyl the sound of people talking
distant through waves of needle scratch.
Water rolls out drains from ears and eyes.
I see again people diminutive
sitting on stone chairs spread
from bank to bank across the muddy bed.
The Thames is silent and they chat in silence.
People of stone, some stony as the chairs,
others crystal like water.
It is a city that I see a city without buildings
a city of people not bricks and concrete
not stone and steel, but only
of people. There
on the very mid-line of the river,
a wave frozen out of time
a sculpture an installation a gallery exhibit.
Like but unlike it, the wave of death,
divides my family
they sit on either side of it.
I know it as the final transformation
shapes unshaping themselves moving
from known to unknown each repeating
the very last words
that he or she had said to me - and me not listening -
then or now except in snatches. So they sit,
but not in water but in light. A crystal light.
A heavy light, one carved by craftsmen and supporting
the great weight of water piled above it. Magical.
This is a cave in which I'm breathing air
Fresh air ice cold refreshing. Refreshing
the thought that I, who cannot swim, will die.
I look for the wave, but now I do not see it.
In its place a rainbow hangs No, not one
but hundreds of.
All the colours of.
glaring from the dazzle of
fisheyes like mini suns unsparing eyes
unsparing of the eyes or skin.
and either side of it or them
the crystal people are reflected there
and are reflecting them . their colours
as their colours spread
like hues in watercolour paintings
or water stirred in artist's jars. The brown
and muddied River Thames becomes the rainbow -
Is a rainbow - arced above
and only I am here to know the fact
and celebrate it to myself.
What happened to that land, that stage
in my mutation
from dreamless boy to dreaming man
as nightmares turned to fantasy and fantasy to fun?
How long I thrashed
and sank and rose
through pipe dreams, trance and watery world
to splash my way to shore who knows.
It was not half as bad
not half as terrifying
as was the wearing home
of Granma's ginger fur.
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What a delightful piece. The terror of the child followed by the embarrassment.
So very well told, dear sir.
as child, embarrassment of fur surly does overwhelm the terror... great telling once again, dave.
ginger fur, wow.
take good care, Happy Sunday!
Maybe it was a boy thing. I'd have loved to be allowed to wear my Gran's fur when I was little.
Wonderful! I love the imagery of this piece - your description of almost drowning is magnificent. And of course the mortification of having to parade in Ganma's ginger fur .... well I really felt for that little boy :))
Fantastic imagery especially the near drowning and the wearing of gran's ginger fur coat very embarrassing for the poor young chap :-).
The embarrassment - more potential than real, as it turned out - is what lingers most strongly.
Thanks for that.
Much appreciated. Have a good day.
It is most definitely a boy thing. I perhaps wouldn't have minded wearing it in private... but in public?
It's just occurred to me that I haven't told anyone outside the immediate family - and maybe not even them! - until now.
I'm not sure how close I was to drowning, of course, but I thought I was.
I love this poem story and Gran's ginger fur coming back at the end, wrapping up, an icon.
I even liked the way the lines made waves washing in and out across your page! So many senses were needed in the reading of this - let alone the writing...
Great images through this exploration. It was all great, fur coat in summer and all, but for some reason, I loved that you always got to pick the front seat on the bus upstairs, there and back. Not every child can have their own bus!!1
What an astonishing narrative, and I wasn't expecting the drowning section at all after that beginning! I really liked the wash of all London time through it.
And yes, who couldn't love the fur detail! I had a Great Aunt with a ginger fur and I can remember the smell on wet days to this day!
Yes, you have it exactly: Gran's fur did become an icon for me, I'm not sure, though, whether that was because of or inspite of my ambivalent feelings.
Do you knnow, that was quite unintentional. I did look at the finished poem and think that I liked the patterns that the lines made, but it still didn't occur to me to associate them with the waves, but you're quite right they do echo them - and also the tide going in and out, I think. Many thanks for pointing it out.
That's true, but that is what made this particular outing a regular favourite. The bus started 2 minutes walk from where we lived. It waited there at least half an hour between trips - it might have been longer, I can't remember for sure. If neither front seat upstairs was vacant, we simply waited for the next one. Hampton Court was at the other end of it's journey, though coming back it was more difficut to be sure of a front seat. On the day in question - a hot summer's day, the fur notwithstanding - we left very early and had the bus almost to ourselves.
Another good point. I had actually almost forgotten the small, but yes, it was part and parcel of the experience! I think it was loaded with gran's perfume!
Funny that embarrassment was the lingering feeling, not fear! Front seat of the buswas a special treat. I graduated there from the back seat that I haunted on the School bus. An intense and interesting poem Dave, I marvel at you poetic memory! Even physically it has a river like presence, with hidden traps and dangers. Deserves to be read a few times.Strangely I wrote about a river too.
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