Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pond: a poem from Camper Van Blues (due soon from Salt Publishing)

(for Yvonne)

Up to your thighs in our new garden pond —
or what will be a pond by half past five —
you seem less human, more amphibian.

To make inert black plastic come alive
with forms that creep, crawl, swim and reproduce,
you heave yourself around collapsing sides

with the ingenuity of an Odysseus.
Soil bouncing blindly off your spade like light,
you tack the liner down that’s working loose.

This muddy sluice is all we’ll have tonight.
The after-dinner speech is ‘Stocking Fish’.
Meanwhile, the garden’s a construction site.

It won’t be long before we come to wish
we’d never started this, both unprepared
to excavate so broad and deep a ditch.

You level up. The pond is nearly there,
one thing we can’t divide now if we part:
a permanence whose origins we share;
the leaky moon inside a sinking heart.

First published in Poetry Review

Apologies to those who may have read this poem before when I posted it up last September. I'm off on my annual writing retreat first thing in the morning and have much packing to do.

I shall post up a previously unseen poem on my return, promise!


Alison said...

I missed this first time round. A great last line-

Did the pond leak?

Bo said...

I like it, this time as the first time. I've nominated you for an 'I love your blog' thingy!

Jane Holland said...

Certainly not in the first few years, Alison. But the relationship fell apart, and the house was eventually sold, so I don't know how well the pond retained its water after that!

But it sure was deep!

Bo, you're a darling. That's cheered me up. Feeling a bit shaky today, for various reasons. And I'm sorry I missed your 'do' in Oxford on Thursday. I only got back from retreat yesterday, to see your message, and realised I had missed it.

Perhaps once you're comfortably ensconced in Cambridge I can come over for dinner? Maybe both me and Steve - if that's okay - as Becky has decided to take a year out to improve her grades, and will be living at home this year instead of at university as we'd thought.

So, another year of built-in slave and babysitter. Hurrah!

Jane Holland said...

I should admit here - or perhaps shouldn't - that I don't like this poem. I like the Odysseus line. But the rest is struggling against the fact that I'm not a natural formalist. I prefer seeking a clear path through the chaos of free verse.

So why post up a poem written in terza rima when I ain't no Dante? To prove I can do it.