I have nothing to say and perhaps this is a good sign, meaning that poetry boot camp is taking my words where they need to go and I have been steadfastly turning up at the page. On the other hand, perhaps I just have nothing to say. I have often said this, but a good thing is worth repeating more than once: having nothing to say is never a reason not to get down and do the writing thing. Discover yourself in the act. Of course if one has an essay to write, then having nothing to say is a problem. But creative (imaginative) writing is not the same thing. A blog doesn’t necessarily fall into either camp. A blog is anything it wants to be – a place, for example, where you turn up and announce (to anyone who may be remotely interested) that you have nothing to say. But:
I have been thinking about animals, having watched a short video here today (thank you, Mr. P.E.). I have been remembering that there was a time when I didn’t think about them at all, they were not in my consciousness. I had a budgie called Benjy once, very boring, and then it died. I had a hamster called Hammy, also boring and then it either died or escaped one day when the cage was being cleaned and never came back, I can’t remember – that’s how much I cared. One day when I lived in a bedsit a tabby cat with a scrappy bit of ribbon around its neck walked in through the window and adopted me. I fed it and it stayed. When I moved it went bush and never came back. Someone gave me a kitten. It was all grey, tiny and too young to have left its mother. It piddled and miaowed and was lonely all day when I was out at work. Wee timorous beastie, I couldn’t care for it so I found people with children and a garden who could.
If someone had told me that animals have hearts and souls and will, if we allow, teach us things about truth, innocence, beauty and love I would have called them sentimental. Then I got a cat and did the thing properly. Coming into relationship with this one animal being has changed my relationship to all animals. It manifests only in the way I feel about them – that they are precious and that “if all the beasts were gone, man would die from loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast happens to the man” (Chief Seattle).
And here is a poem from Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell, addressed to an otter that he loved.
"Thank you, my friendly daemon, close to me as my shadow
For the mealy buttercup days in the ancient meadow,
For the days of my 'teens, the sluice of hearing and seeing,
The days of topspin drives and physical well-being.
Thank you, my friend, shorter by a head, more placid
Than me your protégé whose ways are not so lucid,
My animal angel sure of touch and humour
With face still tanned from some primeval summer.
Thanks for your sensual poise, your gay assurance,
Who skating on the lovely wafers of appearance
Have held my hand, put vetoes upon my reason,
Sent me to look for berries in the proper season.
Some day you will leave me or, at best, less often
I shall sense your presence when eyes and nostrils open,
Less often find your burgling fingers ready
To pick the locks when mine are too unsteady.
Thank you for the times of contact, for the glamour
Of pleasure sold by the clock and under the hammer,
Thank you for bidding for me, for breaking the cordon
Of spies and sentries round the unravished garden.
And thank you for the abandon of your giving,
For seeing in the dark, for making this life worth living."