Thursday, 24 April 2014

The timetable of our days

I have been watching the swallows and house martins arrive this spring, but without my usual joy at seeing their return. The numbers of both species have been reducing year on year here. So far this year, I only have one pair of swallows nesting near home; and another pair have just arrived where I work. We used to have dozens in both locations.
I hope that the others will arrive exceptionally late, but I fear they will not appear at all. I am so sad about this. 
I am waiting with trepidation for the arrival of the swifts, which we usually see here sometime in May.
Will they come at all?

Here's the poem that says it for me.

The timetable of our days

Blackbird in the night,
song of thrush at dawn,
buzzard’s blue morning cry,
the lark’s scales rising with the sun,
the calling of crows at dusk,
owls in the first of dark.

Where are the swallows
to twitter on the wires?
The martins, to sweep the eaves
and to shriek their busy schedule?
Where are the proclaimers of summer?

Wait for the scythe of swift,
the scream of their morning,
breathless, so excited to count,
how many this time?
But I wait,
I wait in silence,
the terrible silence, of their absence.

***Donate to the campaign to stop the slaughter of our migrating birds in Malta:

Monday, 21 April 2014

Writing workshops

Often writing workshops produce the unexpected. Two I have been involved with recently were concerned with small, unnoticed objects. The result is always more than the object you first thought of. This one about a plastic champagne cork turned out to be a short poem about memories.

The plastic champagne cork

You exist to preserve my sobriety.
The value of your importance
far exceeds your weight.
You look like a mushroom
but your ridges are on the wrong side of your cap –
so I can grip you to twist you out.

When you are pulled
and left with the rubbish on the table
it is not only sparkling wine that flows.
Out come the memories –
parties, holidays, anniversaries.
Gardens in Spain where oranges grow,
the heat of midday shade in Seville,
drinking and dancing by the midnight beach.
Too much remembering.

Keep it in the bottle,
oh yes, and please preserve the fizz.

The room is cold and dark.
You sit there,
your white head mocking.
Maybe I should take you out again.
You are too clever for me,
how do you stop the memories?
I should lose you, or forget you,
then I would have to drink the whole bottle.

 (started at Tiffany Atkinson’s workshop on Thing Theory, November 2013, Teifi Writers. Revised and reworked for 52 prompt, week 15, ‘the unnoticed object’ - )