Thursday, May 11, 2017

I watched a pigeon die.

Having a cup of tea after having a swim (even though it is to my onw special brew requirements) is hardly the most exciting thing to do, and yet simply sitting, sipping and looking have provided me with an amazing amount of raw material for use in my poetry.
     When I first went to Turkey I was armed with a sketch book.  I do not, for a moment, pretend to possess any technical artistic ability, but I doggedly sat and drew some sort of picture for every day of my three week stay.  I would love to be able to report that by the end of my time there I was producing fluent, artistic and compelling work, but I wasnt.  My drawings were just as pedestrian at the end of my holiday as they were at the beginning - but I had looked, and I mean LOOKED at things.  Sitting down in front of a mosque, monument, landscape, bottle of after sun (don't ask) or a knife and fork (when I almost forgot to do the daily drawing) made me appreciate the detail of what we usually only glance at.  It was a valuable lesson and one that I apply today.
     I know that as I take my accostomed seat and have my usual cup of tea something will be new and different from what I have seen before.  I look and, if I concentrate I see.
     To be fair, it doesn't take a highly developed form of perception to realize that with a title like "I watched a pigeon die" there is visual material that should be obvious.
     The dramatic nature of the incident also posed its own questions about guilt.  The title was anticipatory and also accusatory - though I am not sure what I could have really done about it.  I felt that I was in a sort of Christopher Isherwood mode, when he wrote "I am a camera" recording rather than acting, my writing in my little yellow notebook gives me a distance which allows inaction.  If you see what I mean.
     As you will see from the poem, there is a sort of twist.
     This was a satsifying poem to write.  Though it didn't 'write itself' the strength of the opening line encouraged a direction that guided the production.

I watched a pigeon die.

It limped, theatrical, goitered left leg,
into the sun.  Once found,
it folded, wearily, into itself,
looking, oddly, as though about to lay.
Its head, sleek in the light,
made jerky quarter turns until
it too sank in the feathered heap.

A public path was this bird’s grave:
its headstone was an open gate.

Approaching feet -
                       and what was moribund
took to uneasy wing and landed,
painfully, a few sad foot along.

A Desperate Last Flight, I thought,
and now The End Game plays.

The feet walked on, and once again
the tired bird pushed
from the ground,
                       but this time
made an arching loop,
above the fence, beyond the trees
into the open blue.

And death will be a little late this year.
At least for some.
Or just, perhaps, for one lone bird
whose flapping flight made false
my quick fatality of thought.

Though, there again,
who knows what must occur
beyond our seated sight?

As always, comments are more than welcome!