Hurry. I am ill suited to it – especially as the days grow hot. I wrote this poem as a kind of rebellion against the feeling that my time was constrained, not my own, running away from me while I seemed to have none of it for the important things.
So I snatched time, and wrote. As I wrote, as I paid attention to what was around me, I felt the time slow. I felt myself breathe again. I felt the hard shells of the seconds soften, crack, and open like the seeds in the ground – become things of infinite possibility again. I realised that, although my home is not the manor described in the poem, there are ways in which it is. I can inhabit my days as if they were timeless, spacious, connected. By slowing, by paying attention, by breathing, I found what I needed. Most of all, though, for me, it is by writing. Writing freely, writing the moment before me, is a kind of contemplation. It can become a kind of prayer.
I am reminded of Mary Oliver’s great advice –
Pay attention Be astonished Tell about it.
This poem was highly commended for the Crabbe Memorial Prize.
You can listen to it here
There is little time –
flowers run to seed so fast under
this strong sun, this dry blue sky,
their leaves curling crisply, blanching.
Their hurry towards death unsettles me
as their stems rattle brown, poppyseeds
pouring through my fingers, tiny and dark,
pouring away like hard-shelled seconds.
I want to inhabit each day slowly, quietly,
as if it were an ancient manor among gentle lands,
with warm red brick thick with years,
that smells of fires, and of rosepetals
as they overflow cracked china bowls,
where time hangs in the spaces between
each tick of the clock, and open doors
let in the endless songs of trees.
There, I could think – uncurl fresh leaves,
as time shimmers like the deep pool, full of lilies,
where the bright dragonfly waits, and waits.