Digital Ischemia

20/12/2015

A Visit to St. Nature

Come with me, along the sodden river bank. Put the bustle aside for a moment to mind a different world. Crunch through the crust and catch a creature beginning its seasonal lament…

A Visit to St. Nature, laid-eggs and gentians!

‘Tis the night before Solstice, and all through the soil
All the creatures are flat out, engrossed in their toil:
A-stoking the chimneys, a-polishing wares,
In hopes that their customers soon will be there.
The robin is posing above the rose bed,
While morsels of bugs and plums dance in its head;
Here parsnips and beetroots in their earthy wrap,
Are well settled in for a long winter’s nap,
While out of the woods comes paper for letters;
Gall wasps and acorns make ink for the writers.

But metals mined from precious earth leave a gash,
So you get your gadgets to throw in the trash.
Marvel at this pristine land under snow,
Hiding the poison, the maiming below.
What to your wondering eyes will appear:
An oak forest slain or great herds of deer?
A coral-free ocean, a melting Arctic,
Or land ripe for drilling and likely oil slick?

More rapid than eagles, the grousers’ guns came,
Despatching hen harriers, pursuing their game.
Now right whale, now rhino, now orca, now oryx;
For ivory, elephant; for petting, slow loris;
For timber, for palm oil, for pain medicine,
Farewell tiger, orang-utan, pangolin.
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
Each life is extinguished, without asking why.

So, can you get conscience, and consciousness too,
And see all your toys as distractions from you?
For you, in a twinkling, like stars on our roof,
Have altered our planet, yet deny the proof.
Hydrology, chemistry, flooding the ground:
Thresholds and chances passed by in a bound.

You still dress in fur, still leather your foot;
Your homes are still tarnished with ashes and soot.
Your bundles of toys are breaking our backs;
Your shopping addiction, your over-processed snacks,
Your eyes never wrinkle, your straight nose, how very
Successful, and how your lips swell like a cherry!
Your so-perfect life is wrapped up with a bow,
So where did your ultimate happiness go?
The therapy, pampering, white straightened teeth,
And the drink, and the dope and the smoke in a wreath;
Around your taut face and your little flat belly
That strain when you laugh, at dire, brainless telly…

Where went the magic, the fairy and elf,
The enchantment that humbles, in spite of yourself?
The wink of the eye and the twinkle of sled,
The ringing of bells and the sparks where it sped?

Oh, please step outside, and outside of yourself,
And fill up your ears and your eyes and your health,
And take in some fresh air and nourish your nose,
Or ask yourself why, if the smell isn’t rose;
You might be surprised, even pleased if you listen,
Delighted to see all of Nature a-glisten.
So, as the world turns and a new year is nigh,
Happy Solstice to all, and to all a good night!

 

Humble apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.

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13/12/2015

Bark

The dog barks, the bark smokes, the smoke blinds, the blind twitches…

Wood smoke is a homely, comforting smell. Being warm is a fundamental human need; roasted potatoes are a bonus. But no one offers me potatoes. I can’t sleep with my belly empty and my lungs full of smoke.

Police are never exactly welcome: they always bring bad news. This b.n. takes the form of a ‘male tan terrier’. I have to ask because I am not conversant in strains of dog. He’s a foolish example: clearly he has never terried anything in his life. A blonde dishmop. Small. Do I recognise the mutt? Any idea who it might belong to? No, sorry, but if I meet any other dog-danglers I’ll mention it; they seem to pay attention to each other’s accoutrements. Thanks for your time. No bother. As an afterthought, if you’re stuck, you could check if the kennels have lost one. Good idea, thanks again.

Tatty-bye. You got the wrong neighbour here: Uncle Merv could’ve answered your questions much more helpfully. He has his finger on the pulse. Conversely, Aunty Spam would’ve been a tremendous waste of your time, with a china cup of sour tea. Those are the chances you take, knocking doors. Such a sweet neighbourhood that the polis are employed rehoming stray dogs.

Lost your dog, hm? Or did it get away? I didn’t credit it with that much pluck. Shame. Careless. Perhaps if you’d curried more favour with your neighbours and barbecued less resentment. You see, the only two tarnishes on the neighbourhood polish are both bark.

Hardly worth going through all the palaver, but Merv needs a dress rehearsal. He’s put on a clean jumper. Perhaps only because he dribbled gravy earlier, but it gives a keen impression. Merv reminds me of the basics of ventriloquism. It’s no help. I simply need mimicry, as best demonstrated by the bird kingdom. Agility is a bonus.

The prelude: a little powdered moss upon the log pile to create that evocative scent. The main act: canine obscenities from all directions, moving on just before each light flicks on. Curtains open; torches flash out; bickering escalates; doors are flung. Window vents are such a boon: ideal funnels for noise without disturbing the neighbours.

It’s not nice to complain about a single event, without first asking why, like a dog barking one night when a man is away burying his mother. It’s cowardly to make your complaint via an anonymous letter through a door. It’s mean to harangue someone who, despite provocation, comes to apologise and explain. It’s suicidal to cross the kindest, most generous neighbour in the street, without recognising the community spirit.

Welcome to the public domain.

First there’s poltergeist dogs barking all night. No-one else hears them. Then the wood-burning stove suddenly smells so bad. Really bad, like burning flesh. Then the horror of a few tan hairs snagged at the hopper. Moving on so soon? Tatty-bye.

Don’t be ridiculous: tan dish-mop alive and well, living by the sea. A concerned traveller in a clean jumper finds him wandering a couple hundred miles from here and passes him to a local, who hands him in to a dog home. Unfortunately the mutt isn’t tagged, isn’t claimed, but despite all his shortcomings he soon finds caring home.

Most satisfying. The refreshing sensation of lungfuls of clear, silent evening air. Plus a surprise, there on the saw-horse: Merv has left for me a cup of hot milk. How thoughtful. I pour it into the gravel, just in case.

[ Truthache series starts with Entry. ]

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