I was delighted to finish yesterday’s selection with a Jack of all trades; pretty much how I feel today, having spent several hours doing a job that involved trowels, plaster, decorator’s caulk, two stepladders, boiled linseed oil, three collapsible crates, kitchen sealant and a bucket of emulsion. I took a cupboard down, skimplastered the wall behind it, let it dry, emulsioned it, let it dry, and then put the cupboard back up . I had it in my head that it would take an hour or so. Jack of all trades, master of none. That poem resonated with me. As did the idea that when this is all over….I’ll have a coffee and a smoke. And at three o clock, I did. Sometimes it would be nice to simply get a proper man in. I imagine that royalty live like that, unthinking, blithe. Stuff just gets done.
The King (Kathleen Strafford)
When this is all over, said the King
I will pipe down the hammocks
float out with the tide
drink from an everyday jug left in the rain
later three sheets will blow in moonshine
& in the offing
watch the water-colour sky unfold
On days it’s pouring I’ll take long walks
meet rainy day women shopping in doldrums
who know the ropes
grabbing hand over fist
for frozen tiaras & fishnet dreams
who have no idea
is at a loose end
they are deported in ships of fools
escaping through portholes
I’ll chase their chasing shadows
when I’m through put on my shades
knock on your door
bend on a royal knee
like a seasick sailor wave goodbye to the sea
hand you my heart
like a crown
Late Chain Survey (Christopher North)
We drag our chain to the fuzzed margin,
the field for us the only field on earth,
all else is blur. We rod the line,
behind us upright wisps of red and white
and one distant in front. Then twilight’s grey pall
and beyond the hedge falls black.
Our thin tape rasps out the offsets.
The rye grass offers no mark,
the same in this station as the next.
Then the chain goes forward.
Your figure quests onward into dark,
until, link by link, there is only the moving chain.
Listener (Char March)
When all this is over
my ears will have grown
learnt to swivel, independently, and often
to the rasp of damp grass
the thump of butterflies’ feet
the thundering rearrangement
of feathers on tucked-deep nests
badger air’s duskly snuffle
oxygen easing from trees’ leaves.
It will be, by week three, as if I had laid
your Windmills of Norfolk teatowel over the daisies;
reached in elbow-deep through my clogged glup of Icarus;
to unpin; held my auricle to the sun; become cog-carer.
Disassembled helix and anti-helix onto Cley-next-the-Sea,
tragus and anti-tragus to Burnham Overy, concha and lobule
(strange to remove my gold sleepers only now) safe at Stow and on
into the percussion section – malleus, incus, stapes to Turf Fen –
for the full Spring clean while pear blossom snowed the veg beds
confusing the bees for days.
And once more
I shall be deaf.