Skip to main content

Comings and Goings


Comings and Goings


I’ve been thinking about these a bit recently, especially the latter – maybe because my newly published pamphlet* has been much in my mind, with my efforts to publicise it.


Actually, I’ve met with some wonderfully supportive reactions, so ‘efforts’ gives the wrong impression.  But certainly a lot of time has been happily taken up by making lists, arranging a launch** and readings, contacting old friends and telling everyone I can think of, about it.


So getting down to writing new stuff becomes that little bit harder.  Or there’s more of an excuse…

Well, to come to the point, as the poems are about suicide, they focus on Goings. 

I wrote this poem some time ago.
Bradwell, looking east out over the North Sea, is a place of arrivals and departures, to be sure. 
For over two thousand years it’s been exposed to invaders and defenders. All sorts of people, ranging from the predatory to the missionary, have come and gone; some have changed roles here, fresh waves have washed in. Some leavers have returned, others not.

None of which should surprise, as this is border country: land meets sea, and people meet – in all sorts of ways – other people. Here is exchange – gain and loss; conquest and defeat; conversion and resistance…

Meanwhile, St. Peter's church, said to be one of the oldest buildings in England, incorporating masonry from the abandoned Roman fort it rests upon, remains.  It was built in 653 by St. Cedd, who travelled south from Lindisfarne to spread Christianity, and later left.  Over the centuries, it's changed its role: church, barn, back to church again; its constituent stones and bricks by turns military, ecclesiastical, agricultural, then ecclesiastical again...
so many conversions, like all those comings and goings. 

A final note on departures.  Between 1942 and 1945, 121 members of allied air forces flying from here failed to return.


Birds of passage at Bradwell

Across the dyke there flies a flock
of wide-winged painted lapwings
over old Roman Othona.

One turns back where many have come
and gone. I lose her somewhere
behind the high box of the church of Saint Peter
whose bricks made a fort to deter the invader
before everything settled at last. 

Saxons and Vikings all crossed these marshes
along with many another. A long time ago
Cedd came by himself, then went
alone, like a lapwing, leaving his church.

Later on, other flocks, wide-winged and painted,
left here to deter the invader,
some not to return.

Now grass grows in the runway,
the old church still stands
and a lone lapwing comes back to land.


*http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/richard-westcott/4594230918

**Is a launch both a coming and a going, all at once?
Whatever, mine’s on 9th May 7.30 in South Molton library – all welcome!
https://www.devonlibraries.org.uk/web/arena/southmoltonlibrary




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A plague on all these houses

It's a great poem, Lowell's For the Union Dead. I only recently came across it - at least, that's what I thought - but it's been grunting (I choose the word advisedly) away in my head ever since, especially that fourth verse. Behind their cage, yellow dinosaur steam shovels were grunting as they cropped up tone of mush and grass to gouge their underworld garage. It took a little while for me to realise why. Before (I thought) I'd read it, I wrote a poem about the new housing estates springing up round our little town. I was thinking about the various creatures that had lived on the field that was to be covered with houses - sheep primarily - and then those that were to follow. The first were, well, a sort of dinosaur. Here's my second verse: At first it was the one-armed monsters, set free within their caged arena to trundle round, and gently paw the ground, then pile up mounds of earth accompanied by Lego men. I was pleased

Happy Christmas!

Christmas – or if you prefer, Solstice, Hanukkah, or just This Special Time… Stop now.  For a moment, wait. And look.  From here you can see far. In this direction, where we’ve been – the climb, the ups and downs. Now turn around. There before you lies the future.  At the summit of the year there’s time to rest, and be refreshed – let’s gather here, so we may share each other’s company, look forward to the new arrivals, lives to come travelling into this misty landscape, and in our brightness bring to mind those no longer in our group. So drop your rucksack, get your breath back the old year lies behind – for now let’s all enjoy the present gift-wrapped here before us. I’m quite sure this little poem has no great literary, let alone poetic merit, but hey we don’t always have to be polished, clever, neat or profound. Or original. Or elegant. Especially not when you’ve just got to the top of a mountain. But there is a def

The Three Hares

  The Three Hares We continue on our way running, running, running around held together tip to tip so I can hear what she can hear as well as her. And the other follows me in front of her – we are joined up by our ears so we follow, lead and follow running, running, running around we continue on our way. Running, running, running around – no cause for worry – what's to come has already been. The future's past – watch us here – we're going nowhere – the last is first and first is last. Our present moment sees us still although we seem to race – running, running, running around we continue. On our way running, running, running around hearing your persistent questions – why do you keep on asking? We cannot tell you any more. May you share your senses and find soft silence at your centre which is so close, while you go on running, running, running around. The turning of the year, with the various thoughts about the past and the future that c