Memory Maps: Three poems by Elaine Jordan
Brightness falls from the air
Springs up by the way
Vetch beside, wet
lit by the sun
Brilliant! The two
Yellow and blue
The sky screeches,
Squat and fast it goes over, low
The sun in the sky remembered
Blond white of dried grass, reeds red
And emerald blue, where water was.
Blue flowers of chicory, in wands,
Yellow ragwort heads
Off White House beach the boats return
As the sun glitters to its fall.
Sheets clap, tense to the wind
As the dinghies turn. Water laps
And withdraws, gulls home on the mud.
As the stream runs back to the tide
Fish dart clear, shrimps bounce,
The little crabs clamber about -
What events, what changes, what life!
The courts are closed, the analysts
At the seaside, the policemen
Are basking in the sun.
August, month of thistledown, drought,
Regattas and death
By suicide or cancer.
I will not leave this place for any reasoning.
Here the swallows come, making my home.
In August a flight of six, sewing remembrance,
Through the door of the shed swoop in, through the hole in the roof swerve
Out, out and again and again swerve in and out
I will not mend the gap they stitch to the air.
Signalling their return on the telegraph wire, come May,
A wing lifts, falls. Lifts, falls.
And 'Itis', 'tis sweet, sweet old sweet cries of the young It is sweet.
Above all in the wind they play Sky surfers, on the point
Of the cypress, letting it sway them
Only one never settles, attempting
the tallest most untenable plume of all.
One and one and one, one and one, and one swerve in a measure
Unceasingly fixing the site
of mud nest, free play, free flight..
[For an African visitor, and for my children leaving home]
* Hexiology (OED): That branch of science which treats of the development and behaviour of a living creature as affected by its environment.