It is extraordinarily quiet here. Nothing but birdsong and the hum of my computer. My garden seems to have been adopted by a couple of blackbirds. As they do not have any distinguishing features I can’t swear they are the same ones, but there are always two out there now, hopping about on the cedarwood roof of the garden studio. A whole lot of blue-tits as well, which I like to see, so many of them having been driven away last year by thug starlings. For a couple of weeks then I got into a bit of a Hitchcock’s “The Birds” condition with the endless raw-throated caw-cawing of them as they fought each other for the bread and cooked rice on my neighbour’s bird table. But it isn’t like that now. There is a muted feel to the landscape and the sky. I like it because it asks nothing of me. After poetry workshop I am tired.
Because I said I would write a poem, I did, and when I had done it I could see that it had been there for a while waiting to be written. It came out of a holiday in Lesvos last year and some notes I had made at the time. I haven’t been writing in notebooks recently and I miss it, am reminded to take up my pen again – literally. Keyboard is good but not the same process at all. Opening a notebook which I haven’t looked at for some months is always a surprise. The person who made the notes is a surprise as well as the things she feels it is important to notice. In Lesvos there were days when the wind was strong, you knew by looking out at the trees that grew just by the beach. On my first day I wrote:
“Blowing so hard, I can’t hear myself think. Something frantic about the trees – what kind are they? Evergreen-type foliage, agitated and restless. How can we rest with this going on in plain sight?”
On my last day:
“The trees are called tamarisk. Their trunks are sturdy, weathered bark and they grow forked into twos and threes. The cloud of green that has been so busy with the wind is made of spindle-green filaments, delicate when seen up close. The roots of the tree go right down into the salt-water, which they do not mind.”
Out of this, and other bits about my daughter’s sunburn and an old donkey by the ruin of a temple to Dionysus, the poem came. Or the beginnings, the substance of one.