Hey you, who abandoned me at life’s worst moment; who lied to all of us. Who told me of a love, un-encounterable to most. The path that cut steep down through red soils was lined by light. Tiny stars of wood anemone watched over my eager feet as I moved down through the bluebells having their first conversations with the early bees. All seemed so narrow, a weight, but with an unfurling canopy of shock-green saving me from a complete molten, lead sky.
But at the base, where woods fall literally into the river, the sky came in with a bright summer blue, and I stopped to take a deep breath. Breaths are gold, each one, even on ventilin. The river moved like a sliding plate of silver down the table, pausing by me, almost stationary, to hear an ornicophony of riverbirds, and the faint shriek of peregrine somewhere high above. Remember, you asked me to write a poem.
Everything opened up to me at this place, Capler, and to everything, flowing through my veins and into my lungs and to the lips. This was what I came for. To try to heal.
I’m suffering again, not in your arrogance, in your image fixed into the eye of red-bellied black snake (poor snake), but a realisation that a lifetime of my own difficulty here at my desk, might be a neural difference, an unbidden mindset, unseen and unfelt by all who have tried to help me until now. I don’t like the terminology (this is a symptom too), though I sometimes give too much of my attention, and am hardly inattentive to others. But it only takes a hairline fracture to let the light into pitch black.
The DNA-flow of great grandmothers, grandmothers who died by their own hand, mothers (me), daughters who swim beautifully but who still feel they are drowning ~ I just thought this is what it meant to be a woman. To be let down by men.
Apparently, only a few are weighted by this “attention deficit”. The anxiety that has ripped through all life’s traumas—there have been many, about as many men in our lives—I just thought we were sensitive. Perhaps, that’s just all we are. It’s hard to contemplate another turn of mental anguish ~ I’ve only just come off the pills.
So the path swings left as the river widens into the most exquisite vista to the south, the Wye leaning into a high slope of woods, carving the opposite bank where thick Herefordshire farmland sits heavy. There’s a grandmother over there, with her granddaughter, and they are throwing pebbles in the stream. Bredwardine memories stop me still and then empty me.
Butterflies filled me up ~ at least six species; little flighty wings got my attention. I sat among them for a moment, down in the undergrowth, smiling with them. How do you tell a butterfly she is beautiful? Then the path sunk into the bedrock cascading in steps to where the salmon try to run old Ballingham, where the proto indo european rip of riparian—that deep climatic tear—is plain for all to see. More butterflies lay prone on the rock, soaking in the heat. I felt lost there, truly lost in that most profound, good sense.
When I came to my other senses, where dream-brain switches into task-brain (as I am now told), I followed a bee into a wide holloway, pushing up into the steeps under Capler Hill Fort, and into a vast auditorium that would have blown your mind.
Ravens sounded their wings in circles above me (put that sound in my pocket and save it for later). Giant red-tailed bumblebee queens looked like tiny ants as they rustled their buzz under dry, tongued ferns. All the passerines from all over the Earth were here it seemed, super-high among the quarry-top trees. One oak lay crashed down at the bottom of the cliff, fallen from the topsoil that looked so thin at the top. Another big tree that looked small because of the scale dangled precariously, its roots like tentacles feeling the air. All life is so reliant on that thinness.
Then, to hear a slow-rising noise, the shallowest anthrophony of cessna above, of brightly coloured canoe-shouters in the channel, and a sit-on-lawnmower droning slowly towards me. Here, at this place! I could hardly contain my anger. I talked to him later when I’d cooled down, about grass clippings and river ecology—they don’t mix—and he talked to me about keeping things tidy for the tourists, and the fly-fishing licenses; saving the kids from being stung by nettles (I laughed out loud); saving Earth from the scourge of balsam. And litter, to be fair. Even a Ford Capri. And I thanked him for that.
I walked back alongside his engine, and we stopped to listen to the noisy peregrines eyeing two-day old ducklings swimming the big, scary river, in little flurries.
The man told me the quarry I’d found may have been the source of the red sandstone that is now Hereford Cathedral. A hole in a hill the size of nine hundred years. These peregrines live there now, perched on the quarry ledges. Peregrines also hunt their quarry around the Cathedral tower.
I think I found a feather of a female the other day near the remains of a dead pigeon. It’s pinned to my notice board for me to admire the inward beauty of her. Like a shock.
Then one flew right over me casting avumbra. And that was the healing moment of the day. The silence of avumbra. I came home wanting, by the habit of four years, to tell the image of me in the mirror ~ you. I wanted to tell the other one too, the earliest bud of cherry blossom, but he’s just told me he found someone else, before the flowers have even fallen to the ground.