Cathy Ryan and Elaine Desmond are currently students on the MA in Creative Writing. As an antidote to lockdown, they bring us out into nature with these two poems.
Rosebay willow herb,
it was the last time you told me the name of a plant.
We were walking the dusty gravel road to the edge of the woods.
Woods so silent and full that
the absence of noise was pure sound.
Up here, the clean living of tree and bark have
grown into wildly shifting shapes,
into creatures and beings I have never seen.
They skin, scale and shimmer, their beaks, jaws
and eyes appearing from twisted, lichened trunks.
Up here, the trees are an endless unwrapping of language and tellings,
written in dapples on tireless, delicate skins of bark,
whorls and hieroglyphics marking the passing of time.
Telling of the passing of silence, telling of our passing
our hands tucked deep in our pockets,
making the break slowly.
Darling heron-ruled headland, green-marine
claw of rock and water. Cadet blue
sometimes or paint swatch shades between
damselfish or larkspur. Truly? Not true —
it’s mostly grey. Mud-sullen, pallid grey
as colourless as tuberculosis.
Though our eyes find turquoise past this clay,
some days even storm tides won’t heal sepsis.
Watching trawlers, ferries, overhead flights,
we haul our bones from shore to shore, as practic
al herons squawk their advice,
KEEP GOING they shout, walk light, don’t stick,
keep-your-hearts-open, trills a curlew
be primed for magic. Listen — from out of the blue…..
TOMORROW: An extract by Fiona Whyte from her novel, Let These Things be Written, and Sue Lewando on the nature of story-telling.