When you planted me so long ago at the side of the track Did you know I would outlive you? Did you countenance the life that I would give Not just to self replicate but in harbouring others? From insects small to tawny owl nesting in my hollow. Did you contemplate the years of shade That I would afford travellers down this lane From farm boy labourers to coaches drawn And then to cranking cars and back to men? Did you know that centuries later your ancestors Would stand beneath me and wonder at my age Drinking in the air that I expire and admire me Almost as a generous god? For the peace and the calm and the life I can give.
You would be sad to see how the world Is treated with disdain Your progeny, no longer guardians But ravagers of nature Greedy for expansion. I weep and yearly drop my limbs, Shrinking from the world at large Drawing in on myself: to nothing.
Then drunk in their own excesses They will choke on their own vomit And there will be nothing you nor I can do.
When I stare out across the wide salt flats I count my blessings, from a life so full I’ve seen so much of beauty unsurpassed In hills and dales; and becks that trickle past; Of lakes that gleam with orange sunset light Or slow appear from out a mist at dawn From hills all bronzed with bracken-coloured growth And crags dramatic grey in slanting rain. I’ve heard the birdsong in the green hedgerow And listened as the buzzard keens her call Crossed hillsides where the sheep bleat all the day Smelled garlic wild along the woodland way. Although my body now is rather frail, I see and hear and scent as on the trail, For senses come to life each live long day As the river washes all my cares away. She stops in shallows near my wooden seat Reflecting all that’s past just at my feet I ponder on the waters on the sand And know from these reflections from above That heaven for me, is very close at hand.
I wrote this poem after visiting Arneside and Silverdale, which is close to the Lake District in the UK, where I have spend many holidays. The Lake District is one of the prime hiking locations in the UK famed for its wonderful combination of mountains and lakes. Arneside and Silverdale is nearby and in fact you can see the hills in the distance from there but the river is the main attraction here. As we walked along the riverside, there were elderly couples sitting and reflecting and taking in the sunset. I imagined the thoughts of one gentleman there as he sat with his walking stick deep in thought.
The dying thistles blow in the wind Spreading next year’s crop Of pain and beauty Floating on the breeze. Beautiful at a distance They provide some Sustenance for insects and birds, Until on an urge to reproduce They send out their Seemingly innocent progeny, On wings of fluffy parachutes To colonise the world In the same guise. Then turning their shameless heads Upwards, like little suns Of self satisfaction Too late they realise their Mistake And hang their heads In death and repentance.
Such is misinformation Difficult to stop Attractive to look at Apparently benevolent But inflicting Pain that pricks at our heels And stabs our fingers. And which misinformation, Seeds itself in ways That we cannot anticipate.
You think you’re alone Cut off; shut in Shunned by the world and Separated by lockdown.
But look at your self Look closely now Search inside your mind.
There are intricate memories Pictures of Places been Things seen. Moments of Complex relationships Conversations had Discussions You Could have had Might have had Maybe will have And they can all be worked out Listened to Responded to By your alter ego.
We are never only one. How many names do you have? All them you!
You are not alone.
And if you have a God You also know He is there Listening to you Feeling your pain Supporting you And lying beside you in the darkest night Holding you in your dreariest hour.
Never despair. We are all more than one; Always with you. Strong.
This poem was inspired by looking at my photograph of this Echinacea. I zoomed in and found so many different levels and intricacies and I thought that within any structure in nature there is so much more, especially in the human mind – so many of us in one. Always more than one.
Tied As if by a chain to the hole in the wall, Which sends out a magic juice; Life-giving oxygen that breathes Slow breaths Into me. In Out Cough Shaking all about. Life-giving essence; Keeping me alive. It would only take a careless welding of A Nightingale pipe Put together at speed, For a burst; a suffocation; Murder of my COVID fuddled brain. Count-down from 10 to zero Lockdown; Shutdown And life would cease. Another member of the herd Obliterated. But this tube Although imprisonment Gives life; Precarious as it may be It is a chance To recover to A future of what? God alone knows.
Satellite dishes; fairy proportions Growing in bunches just like mistletoe.
Spreading on branches; shapes ever changing Fruticose beings of many a hue.
Mutualistic or parasitic; Not plant; not fungus; a freak of the world An ancient species long lived and thriving? Better than humans pollution they’ll find. Found in abundance, throughout all the world On branch; on stone; on building or playground
Alien species? Where did they come from? Keeping their watch from wherever they sit. Brooding; plotting to take over our world? Look out behind then; they’re growing near you.
Lichen are some of the strangest growing things in the world. The oldest in the Arctic is said to be about 8600 years old, the world’s oldest organism, and they probably grow only 1mm a year, depending where they are. They come in many different shapes and forms and even change their shapes and colours as they grow. The more I read about them, the more ubiquitous I realised they were and I began to imagine them lurking and waiting to take their turn in taking over the world! Terrifying.
The following words about lichens are from Wikipedia. “Many lichens are very sensitive to environmental disturbances and can be used to cheaply assess air pollution,ozone depletion, and metal contamination. Lichens have been used in making dyes, perfumes, and in traditional medicines. A few lichen species are eaten by insects or larger animals, such as reindeer. Lichens are widely used as environmental indicators or bio-indicators. If air is very badly polluted with sulphur dioxide there may be no lichens present, just green algae may be found. If the air is clean, shrubby, hairy and leafy lichens become abundant. A few lichen species can tolerate quite high levels of pollution and are commonly found on pavements, walls and tree bark in urban areas. The most sensitive lichens are shrubby and leafy while the most tolerant lichens are all crusty in appearance. Since industrialisation many of the shrubby and leafy lichens such as Ramalina, Usnea and Lobaria species have very limited ranges, often being confined to the parts with the purest air.”