Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Trees Are Singing...(apologies to Doris Lessing)

It hasn't stopped raining for three entire days and it’s joyous. What is it about the rain, African rain, which lifts the heart and mind? Banished are those long, hot, dusty white days. The sky is recovering. It makes you wear pin striped shirts and diamond earrings and pretend you are a novelist, a rich and purposeful one with only one task in mind and not a mother or a teacher with a million tasks all baked into one pie. Sigh. Still. Everyone's allowed to play play. Especially on days like these.

My dear friend and neighbor, the artist aka Mrs Claire Baker, has visited for lunch and a few snifters of  dry white sherries and some, um, bean stew. Not bridge. It’d be better if it was roast lamb, but there you go, and sweet garden peas harvested from these misty fresh climes all accompanied by the ticking of a grandfather clock in a dark corner and fine conversation.  We  celebrated the divine weather together. Such is the joy of neighbours – like minded ones to boot. She has to feed a baby falcon every 4 hours, apparently. Her husband has even phoned Japhet (groundsman, mechanic, gardener, neighbour, general all round fundi read as expert) from the wedding in Iringa,  to check up on her. She has confessed she isn't great actually holding birds. Me neither. All that reptilian flapping and hissing. Ew. Having an avid ornithologist for a husband adds to the pressure. It'd be like me having to hold a frog or something.Over. My. Dead. Body. I'd need to be institutionalized afterwards. But I can pick up dead giant centipedes. So there. She has to drop long slithers of ropey meat down its throat. Still. Chin chin to the rain and all that. Yes. Indeed. And good films.

After all the rain, only the trees are a ridiculous green because they like to be early, a bit like Granny Martha, may she RIP,  who liked to be at the airport at least 4 hours ahead of check in time.  Everyone else is late, like the grass,…it sleeps until the rain wakes it.  You can see it growing every time you look. In fact, if you listened carefully enough, you’d hear it growing. I imagine it as an inaudible squeaky stretch. While the trees sing. I’ve nothing against grass, you must understand. It’s just that, well, trees have ears and eyes.  And voices, clearly. The hill is how I imagine the Scottish highlands to be from stories and postcards – curling mist carrying fine soft rain in swathes, this grand and grave weather arriving without warning.

I love these slow misty mornings. You lie, warm like a scone, sipping coffee, laced with Cranberry Juice (I know. Go figure. The milk carton and the cranberry juice carton look and feel exactly the same at six thirty in the morning) listening to Radio 4, then reading a totally inspirational interview with Billy Collins on the  Paris Review.  Deep under my hyrax rug (I know I know. Karma hasn’t happened yet. 53 pelts in total. I've counted them and I do worry. But by golly, it’s warm. Enough.) Billie Collins, poet laureate, makes me feel so much better about my present state of affairs but more about staring out the window for what I've always considered wasted hours, at swallows in the mist and a bee skirting rain drops on the window pane.

“…There’s a lot of waiting around until something happens. Some poets like David Lehman and William Stafford set out on these very willful programs to write a poem a day. They’re extending what Catullus said about “never a day without a line.” But most poets don’t write a poem a day. For me it’s a very sporadic activity. Until recently, I thought “occasional poetry” meant that you wrote only occasionally. So there’s a lot of waiting, and there’s a kind of vigilance involved. I think what gets a poem going is an initiating line. Sometimes a first line will occur, and it goes nowhere; but other times—and this, I think, is a sense you develop—I can tell that the line wants to continue. If it does, I can feel a sense of momentum—the poem finds a reason for continuing. The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. A lot of it has to do with tone because tone is the key signature for the poem. The basis of trust for a reader used to be meter and end-rhyme. Now it’s tone that establishes the poet’s authority. The first few lines keep giving birth to more and more lines. Like most poets, I don’t know where I’m going. The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement. If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you’re simply using a pen to record what you have thought out. In a poem, the pen is more like a flashlight, a Geiger counter, or one of those metal detectors that people walk around beaches with. You’re trying to discover something that you don’t know exists, maybe something of value…”

Yes. The way the words lie waiting to be found.
Here a wee poem which I think echoes this sentiment of discovery “..for something that you don’t know exists, maybe something of value.”

Monday’s Ritual
high priestess of poetry
lines up the ink pens,
three in a row;
"my little thirsty word birds,"
she muses.
fingers curved around
cold bone smoothness, 
she twists their tails.
they drink obediently.
silver beaks dipping and winking
into sapphire blue wells.
orchestras should play
as they take the plunge.

unseen words,
like bottom feeders,
dwell in the depths of dark, blue ink - 
unborn - 
undefined - 
as yet.
the pens - 
like fishing birds - 
greedy gannets,
diving comorants,
swallow them whole,
gorging themselves
like fat pelicans.

Kitchen Board: Rainy Sunday Afternoon: Early November and Happiness

with the rain, the termites are active. we need more poles for the horses' schooling arena. 
add to your vocab lists, oh bestests.
toodely toot y'all...bisous X.X.X. long, rainy wind blown wuthering heights ones x. j 


Linda Sue said...

wonderful post as always. It seldom does not rain here so forgive my lack of enthusiasm for your delight. I am sure you have seen this video but just in case...

Elizabeth said...

The joy of rain!
Actually I can quite understand its allure.

We are fine here and I will write later as I need a nap this particular instant.
I will tell you about how I nearly talked to Billy Collins......


Bill said...

At the moment I'm listening to the Grieg and Schumann concerto, in part, to not listen to rain. Sometimes rain seems loaded with danger or perhaps it's nature attempting to repair our damages ....

Anyway, I was thinking, there are a few blogs which should be on paper for permanence and record of the person who wrote them. The web becomes just so much pixel dust.

I hope you've printed your stories.

Janelle said...

linda sue. lovely to hear from you. i can so understand not liking the rain if you're inundated with it...sorta...anyway. its gone already here. and the sun is shining, little puffy clouds in the sky and the trees are hope for more, i think. x j

elizabeth, glad to know all ok! dying to hear about nearly meeting billy collins! YES. x j

thank you bill! am dying to write...but about, what, exactly? what a conundrum... help! x j

Moonboots said...

The rain came. That sounds good for you? I don't think I have ever read such joy in rain but your earlier posts help us understand why. I hope you keep rain dancing for the right sort of rain. I look forward to more of your writing. Tania at 'Backwards in High Heels' has some fab writing tips. She inspired me. You write so beautifully - would love to see your words into stories.

JoeinVegas said...

Three days of rain after all that dry, to green things up. Similar here in our desert, but no rains to come until December.

Angela said...

It`s enough if you look out of the window and just let your mind idle. Yes, have your blog printed, that`s all you need to do. And continue writing about nothing.

family Affairs said...

Bill is right - your blog should be committed to paper for eternity and will one day become a successful book in itself - keep on telling your gorgeous evocative stories and I'll keep reading as long as I can make it past your mean little "I am not a robot" monitor which is ageistLx

Caroline said...

Time to publish, Janelli - you are so very, very good! Cxx