Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spot Of Dying: Part 2 (Planet Of the Dead)

B&W simon planet
'I hope there is a planet where nobody dies and there is no school because everybody knows everything.'

Friday, January 08, 2010

Portrait Of England As A Giant Snowflake

Image from NASAs Terra satellite on 7 January
Or a fragment of a steamed-up mirror or the lid of a frosted puddle (the 'wafer-ice' crunched by 'mass-going feet' in Kavanagh's poem): our big sister island, quilted and tucked in (20 below in some places, apparently the same as the South Pole), but getting on with it after a fashion. And snow is (almost) general all over Ireland too. And we are getting on with it, though less reliably, schools closed indefinitely, most roads ungritted, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey refusing to return from his holiday till the weekend (if the airport is open that is), the Environment Minister John Gormley not happy with his 'Minister For Snow' tag; some consider that Gormley has been made a scapegoat by Cowen, given a 'hospital pass' (no idea what that is, but I like the oddness of it). The local roads are frozen slush, to be driven dreamily slow, the car occasionally sleep-sliding towards the pavement, the steering wheel dangerously (but also pleasantly) light in my hands. Snow, as I pointed out to our son, rhymes with slow.

A little medley of winters:

Cold tonight is broad Moylurg
There is more than glass between the snow
Soundless as dots
(O loose moth world)
In the gloom of whiteness
John Donne has sunk in sleep
With all the numberless goings-on of life
Like jewelry from a grave
Between the woods and frozen lake
The snow drops its pieces of darkness
Soft as excrement, bold as roses
It is falling like leaves on the cold sea
Softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves

Each line is from a different wintery/snowy poem by a different poet (except for one, which is taken from a story that closes like a poem). Names of poems/poets below:

'A Song of Winter' by Anon (10th Century Irish trans. by Kuno Meyer)
'Snow' by Louis McNeice
'Safe in their alabaster chambers' by Emily Dickinson
'Lives' by Philip Larkin
'Elegy for John Donne' by Josef Brodsky
'Frost at Midnight' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
'The Imaginary Iceberg' by Elizabeth Bishop
'Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost
'The Munich Mannequins' by Sylvia Plath
'January' by R.S. Thomas
'The Snow Party' by Derek Mahon
'The Dead' by James Joyce

Image thanks to NASA/GSFC and the MODIS Rapid Response website, which allows free use of its images. MORE HERE

Monday, January 04, 2010

Butterfly Dad

I was finally reunited with our five year old son yesterday evening, after he and his mum had spent nearly a fortnight at her parent's place in Wexford. The delay was partly due to their being virtually snowbound, but he was also enjoying himself hugely: a tree-hut with snow on the roof, snowman, snowball-fights, his Jack Russell Pippa barking at snow, woods, presents, boundless space, etc., etc.

So today (with S back in work and school still out) we spent the whole day together. A little of playing a little hide-and-seek, of making up stories (sitting in my lap as ONE HUNDRED wolves closed in) and practicing numbers and letters. He's beginning to be interested in what these peculiar characters do, the sounds they make and (what I always encourage) the shapes they form on the page. He is well able to write his name now, in block capitals anyway, and he enjoys writing/proclaiming it. So his name was the first word. Mum, naturally, was the second (had to remind him how to make a U). Dad was the third choice. Perhaps because of his left-handedness, he got the first D back to front, which made an interestingly symmetrical graphic. A butterfly! he said. And so I am, hopefully emerging from my chrysalis the odd time at 52.

Friday, January 01, 2010

January 2010

New years snow, 12.30 a.m. 2010
At home, hearing the knock
of fireworks – Christchurch uncorked

shaking and shaking its bells –
I peer out, twitch my nostrils.

Real snow, newly laid
on steps, road – a decade’s

slippage underscored by black
street-lit tyre-tracks

looping the hedged corner
out of what was – just – there.