Reflections from a home front: 15
It’s been a postless, poemless time of late, but after a week of illness (completely non-Covid-related) and then a week of dealing with the resulting backlog, it’s a relief to get back to the solace of composing. I am limbering up with another fairly brief post.
First though, an important update on the last one. The poem (Diverting Dactyls for Difficult Days) mentioned ospreys patrolling the garden pond, just by way of surreal humour. Except, one reader, a friend in Hampshire, immediately got in touch to tell me about the sea eagles on their pond outside their front door. OK, so the pond in question is actually a largish one on Petersfield Heath and the birds in question are white-tailed eagles recently reintroduced on the Isle of Wight, apparently heading up the A3 for a spot of lunch. But still! It’s rather exciting when what you thought was a flight of poetic fancy turns out to be more-or-less fact.
Of course, some of these incursions are not necessarily linked to lockdown. But as the silence is broken by the crescendo of traffic noise and as the air is restocked with fumes, it’s hard not to feel a certain nostalgia for those first, relatively peaceful weeks. And it will be hard not to feel a sense of loss as nature loses territory regained.
At least, that’s what I’ve been feeling, and hence today’s poem. “Crikey,” said the Wandering Albatross, “it’s a bit … apocalyptic, isn’t it?” “It isn’t meant to be,” I said. “It’s more of a plea.” (Because, like so many others, I really do hope that one of the brightest silver linings to the Covid Cloud will be learning what’s possible when it comes to working together to tackle climate change, to find more harmonious ways of living together on this planet.) “Perhaps you could change the ending. Make it more hopeful?” he suggested, helpfully. Well, the thing is that it’s a palindromic poem,  so once you’ve managed to work it out and you’ve got to the end, there’s not a lot you can do. I could perhaps, as also suggested, have solved the problem with the title. But I liked the existing one.
So with apologies for the unintended doom, here are the usual oral and textual renditions.
The quickened air
Drapes the stage with green –
The lavish scene for solo thrush,
Then chorus lines of butterflies and bees,
And from the wings, a troupe of deer and fox and hare –
A wild, extempore ensemble, streaming live, and free
Until we break the spell. Now see the wild ensemble freeze.
The troupe of hare and fox and deer bow out. They leave
The bees and butterflies in ruptured lines
The thrush repeats. The closing scene
Unmantling the stage
Where thickened air
 Poem with a symmetrical structure, where the second half reads roughly the same only in reverse.