When the last ‘Honey-Potter’ had headed for home OV and I collapsed over a bread and soup lunch. Later I continued the pre-Easter tidy-up of the house (clearing the decks for the influx of visitors – especially for hot cross buns on Good Friday.)
Sitting down for five minutes with a well-earned cup of tea, I glanced out of the window, considering the possibility of doing some gardening. You’ll be relieved to hear that threatening clouds made me think better of the idea. It can wait a little longer. Instead I did a little ‘virtual gardening’ – the kind that doesn’t make the muscles ache or get in the way of nesting birds. I reached across for a ‘slim volume’ of poetry entitled "The Art of Gardening". Forget your Charlie Dimmock and your Monty Don – this gardening is poetic: written by my dear friend Mary Robinson. Here’s a sample:
Soft fontanelle of flower
puff ball of light
one day everything is green and yellow
a week later a million poised parachutes
strain between delay and departure
(ed… and so on to … )
whirligig of hairs reaching out
each fruit hooked
to lodge in the earth
lion’s tooth root devouring time
Not all her work lacks punctuation (although she uses it like a condiment rather than a main course) – but here the very words measure out the 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 of the child blowing the dandelion clock. (And guess what? most of them have landed in my garden!)
I love the way Mary uses words – she is never to be hurried. She sees things with such clarity and in such detail that you can immediately tell that she sees things differently from most of us. Hers is a nature to stand and stare, and her love of nature, the wide expanses of wilderness and the tiny intricate details of things close by, under your very nose, is captured in her exquisite use of language.
soft as sea mist
clouds sift the light
foot marks slip into silt
salt on th tip of my tongue
waves slap and shift the shore
store of wrack and bone
and there is more but I don’t want to give it to you as you must go out and buy this book – in fact buy one for yourself and one to give away to a friend who will enjoy being carried away to the Western Isles and the deep places of memory and heart. It is poetry to spend time with – into which to step aside from the loud hubbub of a world that misses so much. It is poetry to set you thinking – to make you want to know more – to inspire you to take that journey into wilderness and memory.
I am so proud to have watched this book come together and to have travelled some of those paths with Mary.
OK, so I’m biased – but that doesn’t stop me being right!