day 25

(NaPoWriMo, day 25: ‘A writing prompt toward the present tense, a meditation in everyday language, that makes room for small noticing and our most spacious perceptions’, inspired by James Schuyler’s Hymn to Life.)

The April sun feels warm this morning. I sit, listen
To James Schuyler, in his past, this present, his voice
Reading a poem thirty-four minutes long. When he talks
Of periwinkles, I realise that this is the name I’ve been
Searching for in the back of my mind, not finding it until
Just now, while sitting here among them, watching
The bees and the spiders that have made them
Their home. ‘Shall we plant some periwinkles there
By that bush?’ Once I decided that yes, as ground cover.
Now, seeing how much ground they cover, I wonder
How much more to allow them. But the time to decide
Is not now, not in spring. On the table, a leaf skeleton
Throws its shadow onto the wood. I take photos, adjust
Its position between my cardigan and the table.
Soup for lunch. The boys talk of God and the world and
How the perceptions of pigs are different from ours.
‘Everybody dance to the music of the piglet.’
My hands are almost dancing, accordion-kneading
Tomorrow’s bread. Later, I sit on the door step
Between kitchen and yard, half in and half out.
Too loud on the other side: music from a nearby garden
And snippets of chat I didn’t need. Here, a background
Whirr, the voices of birds and a neighbour calling
A child, or maybe a cat. These days, it’s more than
Sounds that travel up and down and across
This little street – coffee grounds and crime novels.
Phone numbers for manure. Sourdough and recipes and
Seeds and seedlings and photos of bluebells, for
The neighbour who loves them and can’t leave her house.
And claps, once a week, on a Thursday. But not now.
Now an insect hovers, wings so fast they’re
Almost invisible. I watch the breeze on the petals
Of calendula. The greenish-golden light on the wall.
In the background a hammer, a scrape, the washing
Machine spinning to a halt. The window-box lettuces –
Miner’s and lamb’s – are going to seed, parsley not far
Behind. A dandelion parachute comes to land in
A spider’s web that connects two weathered plant pots
And a sunny wall. ‘Would you like the onion you’ve left?’
There’s bread to fold and washing to hang
And a poem to write and a walk to go on. Up
The steep hill round the corner. Behind a hedge,
A sneeze and a young woman’s voice: ‘I’m bored.’
A catching of breath and the feel of my pulse. Again,
The voices of birds. On the bench near the top:
Three young men, together apart, enjoying the views
And a chat. Cows are blocking the path. I take the other
Side of the dry stone wall, climb back over when I see
They’re unbothered. The path turns first bumpy then
Into the woods, to the place with a view of the treetops,
Almost among them. Beech leaves and branches against
A background of blue – not the sky but hills on the other
Side of this valley. Up here, a cuckoo. Down there, cars –
Still more than I’d like, always more, travelling down or up
The five and a half miles of this longest continuous
Ascent in England. Up which, on another April day, a team
Of cyclists pulled a grand piano, answered the question
How many it takes. On its way up, music from a team
Of pianists. Among them, our boys, playing a duet.
If that is a favourite memory, here’s a list of things
I’ve fallen in love with today: Bumblebees in bilberry
Blossoms. Spring leaves – brambles and beeches –
And those left from last year, beautiful in the sun.
Dandelion parachutes, packed tightly, about to unfold.
A bunch of bluebells, tied with red string, left
On a bench – for whom? A very slow-walking dog.
I have never seen a dog walk this slowly before. It turns
Its head, looks back. It is beautiful. I overtake, keeping
A respectful distance nonetheless, out of habit.
The play of light on a wall, three rectangles. Two bend
Where the wall meets the road. Why not the third?
In a window, a row of single-flower vases
By a kitchen sink. I love the inclusion of chives,
Bud yet to open. On another day, soon. But not yet.

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