Friday, 2 October 2015

THEN THE TREES SING

I was on the university open day trail again the other week. This time we were in Oxford. A city I have known reasonably well since the 1980's. Not the world of the universities but the other reality of the people who live there. 
Do you ever experience memories rushing back into your head when you find yourself back in a space you have known well in the past? It's not deja vu, because the location awakens specific memories. That was my day in Oxford.

Today I have no time for archaeology,
and cannot walk through my history,
or overlay it on this changed location.
I fall through time regardless.

It is a Saturday, one February,
iced over Brasenose Lane, 
me and Leeslide home from the Turves.
All the old glass windows turn ruby.
Then Christine walks up to me,
some pre-children weekend,
and in the fragment of a second,
I can tell you what I was wearing
and she is an eternal twenty three.


Later in the park the trees sing to me.
This is life, no more, no less,
give thanks that you bear witness.
The experience also prompted me to add a second part to a poem I wrote about my previous university open day visits. You can read an earlier draft of the first part here.

UNIVERSITY OPEN DAYS
for Kate

The rain holds off.
Glossy map in hand,
we are steered between
concrete space and lake,
by student ambassadors.

Lecture late [a possible omen?],
we awkwardly slide into vacant seats.
The pitch begins:
we are informed of the academic reputation,
parental fears are prayed on
to push the full board option.
The employability statistics pass me by.
Selection; there can be no barter.
This is not the horse trade,
but a simple statement.
To be considered you must have this.
For me the day dissolves into a series of queues.
We shall be repeating this tomorrow.

2.
And the day shall pass
in a tunnel of self-induced fatigue.
Then we emerge from the third pretend lecture
to find the crowd has swollen to festival proportions,
I spin from one bright eyed convert
to the next smiling advocate,
each bursts with such positive impressions
that I find them hard to believe.

Essentially I have removed a line and broken the poem into two stanzas. 
As for the second part: the first two lines came as I was walking into the first mini-lecture and I simply kept adding to it as the day progressed. You always need to have pen and paper with you, otherwise you'll miss the ideas when they stroll past.
This week I downloaded the new album by Philip Henry & Hannah Martin Live At Calstock- superb. I saw them at Purbeck sandwiched between Martha Tiltson and Richard Thompson, where they were easily able to hold their own in such illustrious company.
Here they are singing an old James Taylor song in Bath.

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