from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 26 May 2011

the common bough beneath the surface

I love it when little moments of synchronicity make themselves felt. I also love how it can be sometimes when you meet a stranger, and find commonality. I know we live in an interconnected universe, and I don't need more proof of that. Nonetheless, there's something both affirming and reassuring about such occurrences. I'm reminded again (I've mentioned it before) of the detective's words in Juli Zeh's insightful and gripping novel Dark Matter, about the two tips of a bough being all that are visible above the surface, breaking the water's face at different points, and yet our knowing – or assuming, anyway – that chances are they belong to the same bough. In this case, poetry turned out to be that bough.

So yesterday morning I started out somewhat harassed by the fact that I knew my day would be disrupted, and there is too much going on on all fronts at the moment in what is a time of personal and professional challenge to be able to comfortably spend a morning away from work-related matters.

I had committed to a visit from a wildlife organisation which is 'mapping' habitat and wildlife corridors in our valley, which is unusual in that there are a number of small holdings being managed by individuals and couples/small groups who have bought a few acres and are farming, if that's the word for such small scale operations, organically and sympathetically to the land. I'm reasonably well informed about wildlife, habitat, ecology etc – I've lived all my life in the country and am a keen naturalist. However, I spent a fruitful hour with the lovely woman who came to check out and advise. And we may even be able to have some help opening up a green lane or holloway, an ancient trackway that borders our land; and also thinning out the little margin of woodland. At the end, having done what we'd set out to do, we discovered some more esoteric interests in common; found that there might be a possibility that I could run a workshop on poetry and environmental awareness (a big aspect of my work), and, more, that she too is a closet poet...

Then Eddie turned up to drop off some wood for the winter burners, as a big oak had come down on a neighbour's land. This necessitated a bit more time and the boiling of a kettle. In the little time I spent with him, though (I hadn't met him before), we had a conversation also about poetry and its connection with song lyrics – Eddie, I discovered, makes and plays guitars, and we spoke of the importance of cadence, sound and percussiveness in relation to song and poetry – that was an unexpected bonus. Plus he had some sound things to say about the current crisis facing larch trees here in Britain which, carrying as they do the phytophthora virus, are being burnt in their thousands/millions in situ... what a waste of wood and energy. I thought Eddie's solution was ingenious: use the energy to power mobile ovens to cook meals for the elderly, or homeless. Or at the very least, make charcoal.

Next A, our vet who has become a friend, arrived to look at an eye problem in she-of-the-grey-matter-worn-on-the-outside. When I came back in from fetching my cheque book, A was perusing Bardo, sitting on my desk. She too turns out to be if not a writer of poetry then a lover of it; and her 'fee', at her suggestion, was a copy of Imago and of Bardo. When I earned my living as a shoemaker, I furnished my house with handmade bookcases, tables etc, acquired my handthrown crockery, many of my handmade clothes and my winter wood by a process of barter for shoes and boots. Even my accountancy fees were taken care of that way! So far it's been rare, as a writer, to find people willing to take books instead of a fee – so that was a delight.

And I may not have done any work towards finding any definite and paid work, something that is a bit of a preoccupation at the moment, but I had a lovely, and interesting, morning... eating strawberries, I suppose you could say, and finding connections.

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