Drawing trees

Drawing Trees


Drawing trees

 

I thought I was doing them properly, the way

you’re supposed to, crayoning out raw shapes

that were, if not quite exactly lollipops, then

certainly something lickable, perhaps clouds

of candy floss wound onto sticks, or ice cream.

I filled them in with a pistachio green to avoid

any ambiguity, ticking in a circle of birds above,

a butterfly the size of a moose. A sun, smiling.

 

Those, she told me would lose their leaves

in the autumn, spend fingerbone winters naked

and heartless. She didn’t say why. I didn’t ask.

Hers were drilled brigades of triangles, isosceles,

getting smaller towards the top of the page

to suggest distance, within which you could

see each and every Starbucks needle, every

chocolate-coloured cone a dangling reproach.

 

first published in Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine Anthology, 2017

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Saltmarsh thoughts #2

IMG_1493Niggling away amongst the thoughts and notes I collected recently up at the Solway estuary – in addition to those about careful observation, and where poetry comes from – have been some insights into what I choose to write about. And what I’ve realised is that no matter where I am, whatever I’m looking at, the thing I’m interested in is people.

This might seem like an obvious conclusion to reach, but wouldn’t always have been. I can recall a time – back when I first began writing “seriously” – when I was more interested in reflecting on what I would’ve considered “nature”, meaning land- and seascape where human beings were either absent, ignored or unwanted. I was always trying to look beyond people and lose myself in these places, or feel inspired by them with my ego at arm’s length, if possible (reliably not).

I find people and what we do far too fascinating now. I’m one of those irritating creatures you see in art galleries who – after about twenty minutes of wandering around – occupies the most advantageous seat in the biggest room and spends their time looking at what everyone else is doing. It’s not that I don’t like art. It’s just that I find our interactions with art and public spaces more intriguing. Admittedly, art is a human business anyway, but the ways people interact with and imprint themselves into landscape is of equal interest to me.

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I live in a relatively crowded country, where it’s pretty much impossible to find yourself in a landscape that hasn’t been engineered to some degree by humans. The Solway estuary is a beautiful place, but people have been living here for thousands of years – farming, fishing, mining, extracting whatever we need – and helping to shape it, for better or for worse. These days I’m far more likely to be drawn by traces and consequences of these activities, and find inspiration for writing there.