Until yesterday, we had had no rain in Dorset for over nine weeks, combined with day after day of temperatures hovering around the high twenties, low thirties. My sun-baked poetry brain has been as arid as our poor, parched garden. Words have sweated and gasped then shrivelled into insignificance whilst I, one roasted poet, have been too hot to give a damn. My peely-wally Northern soul, unused to such a Southern frying, first wilted, then withered and is now as crisp and burnt as the scraps in a bag of chips. To all the gods, whose-ever they may be, a prayer from me and the garden – send rain.
Then, last night, the much anticipated blood moon declined to show its face, blushing behind a mask of cloud, and our panting Labrador refused to come indoors, having caught the scent of rain. And indeed it did – rain that is. Great gouts of water – you could hear the grass sigh and trees, denuded by drought, creaked and unlocked their sap allowing remaining leaves to renew their hold on life. And a poem.
We hold our breath before the forecast,
shut our eyes ( don’t want to see the yellow map,
ferocious sunshine, north to south and east to west).
A forbidden hosepipe curls, like cast-off skin,
the outside tap, a rusted duct, a stoppered spring.
Above, a flying V of geese, discordant pilgrimage,
casting cries like driftnets, trawling for rain.
Curtains pant through gaping windows,
trees crackle-glaze the earth with unquenched roots,
parched leaves applique crisp, brown lawns,
and twigs drop, quaking, snapping under fevered
mutterings of breeze, calligraphies of sticks,
logosyllables of drought – birds peck at stones –
and every day the sun shines carelessly.
Met-men and women, apologetic,
forge unconvincing smiles,
More of the same, no change for the foreseeable……,
Don’t shoot the messenger. The relentless sky
burns on. Long drowned villages emerge, a spire,
a chimney, lintels, sills and steps, timid little wrecks,
blinking in the glare – the reservoir a dribble in the dust.
Rain comes slowly at first, pinpricks popping dark,
silver bullets strafing windows, coins thrown in puddles,
cloudbursts of arrows from a sky like tarnished steel – rivers
crawl from their beds, wash through meadows, across lanes,
through streets and houses, crushing everything before them –
sky moves over water on long grey rafts, the lidded eye of moon
admires itself in cold, dark pools. Underfoot a swamp.
And finally, don’t forget, you can purchase copies of Androgyny, After Eden and Black Bicycle either directly from the poets (Kevin Reid, Stella Wulf and Lesley Quayle) or see our website www.4Word.org – where you can also pre-order copies of Rachael Clyne’s forthcoming pamphlet Girl Golem.