Skip to main content

Are we nearly there yet?


There’s been an awful lot of moon poems recently – of course.

I’ve enjoyed many (Ted Hughes’ is one of my favourites) but there’s a definite tendency for the moon to bring on, well soppy thoughts – and often not that original.  All of which is understandable, what with the 50th anniversary – these round figures seem to encourage sentimentality – the role the moon’s always played in mythology, its soft silver subtlety… oh no, I’m finding myself sliding that way.

I was struck by the comments I heard about the moon dust – how abrasive, tenacious and unpleasant it was.  The lunar module commander, a bit like Mrs Tittlemouse, was put out by the influx of this sand on the return of the explorers.  He had to fuss around, clearing up, tut tutting the while.

It all reminded me of the pervasive quality of sand after beach visits – sand in the ears and hair, sand in the footwell of the car, sand in shoes days afterwards, sand in, well, the sandwiches.

Maybe it’s because we’re now entering the summer holiday season, but I began to see the whole moon visiting business as a glorified trip to the seaside.

What a business it is, organising a beach day! All sorts of clothing in case it rains or gets cold, towels, windbreaks, buckets and spades, food and drink – and then the bags and rucksacks to put it all in.  The journey never quite runs smoothly, until we finally stagger through the sand – that sand – heavily laden and clumsy, to find a place that probably won’t satisfy everyone…

Sorry – I don’t mean to sound grumpy, but the awareness of all that looking after those who need looking after also somehow coincided with feelings about the moon landing, when I saw those visitors – highly-skilled, exceedingly brave, physically robust technicians as they are – almost as children.  It was the flag that topped it off, bringing a welcome smile.

So, as I sit indoors writing with the family, guess where? – I thought my moon poem had to visit the funny side of the moon, conscious of some of the associations of the word lunatic – even perhaps be slightly abrasive.

I’ll be gathering up the buckets and spades – along with that bent-stemmed little union flag which never gets lost – admiring the trophies (smelly shells and crab carapaces), hearing about it all and sweeping out the car later.

Tale of a Flag


He climbs down the ladder onto the sand
under the eye of his friend
who can’t wait to be out there as well.

He sees him jumping – little stones flying,
the dust slow to settle – everything
slowed down, as if in a dream.

Like a child at the seaside, he’s holding a flag –
his country’s of course, though this one is special,
seeming to fly, in no wind.

No place for a sandcastle.  They’ll push it in here.
Take a picture. The flag shows who owns it,
this untrodden beach where no tide will come.

So now, he can hop out
into this dry sea, the Sea of Tranquillity
to gather some fragments, as if they were shells.

The order has come – it’s time to go home.
As home is a long way away
they’re told they must rest first.

Some fragments and sand are their souvenirs –
a bag full of rocks and some very good pictures,
with that photographed flag

left behind. But the exhaust from the engine

flutters the flag, blowing it flat as they leave.




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

Departure

  Departure     Here’s a poem about what’s not here, well not here any longer – distinctive life in a particular form, now gone.   And how, aware of this inevitability, I felt and what I would have liked to have done.     Departure Standing here, I scan the sky a silent sky – uncut, intact. They're gone, those screaming slicers leaving an occasional ordinary bird along with a local gull or two and earth-bound me, still here who had a need to wish them well – to say goodbye, adieu, safe flights to wherever it is they had to go. But it's too late, and I am left now wanting to describe to you to you yourself, no longer here, the presence of this absence and the silence that's been left.   The poetic convention is that when celebrating/commemorating a person’s memory, you  head the poem ‘i.m.’, followed by their initials. But although it is In Memoriam. somehow I didn’t want to put ‘i.m. S.W.’ up there under the title, I think this is because the poem is about absence – wha

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