It is odd to re-visit these poems. This one is the one which is nearest to publishability, I think. Just by blogging them, I am revisiting my foibles, and my main foible is word-play. Also, I must stop using the word ‘spook’. It is possible that this poem might work if I just axed one or more of the stanzas. The only way to make a poem work is to be ruthless, that’s for sure. I could also perhaps have done something further with the initial image of the insect. I haven’t developed it; I’ve diversified the sources of the images instead (one of the poets I admire most, Linda France, is highly skilled at not only developing images but introducing new strands).
I like maps, incidentally. I like the way the offer what is, after all, an alternative view of the world. There is (or was) a great collage of Britain, and I can’t recall the name of the artist, in the Tate Modern, about eight years ago. He’d moved fragments of the map around so that towns in Norfolk popped up in (say) Cornwall, but the road system seemed completely logical. Anyone know the name of the artist?
Sometimes the crane-fly has gone to sleep.
While it is sleeping, a cruel child
has taken its legs, and splayed them
into C-roads, has added
blotches which promise you villages.
The names of hamlets are darker than farms.
Footpaths are hesitant, tiny hyphens
which tiptoe the fields, or, sometimes,
sneak across them when nobody’s looking.
Bracken is approximate. Most coast
is freckled with boulders. And underneath the maps,
the orange contours are thumbprints
who want to play spook. They shift shapes
like roundworms, squirming under microscopes.
The main roads are lazy. They take the easy way,
sort of, pausing to take in a coppice, an orchard,
and they meet magnanimously
at crossroads. At the edge
of the map, they cross over
to the other side, and vanish
like gruff voices, being strangled somewhere
which is else.
You can hear the poem here: