Spring has multiplied signs throught that long and still ice-bladed month of March. If light has reached parity with darkness on the 20th day, and our migrating visitors called at night and settled back in our fields and meadows whilst others pursued their incredible journey north, the island still needs to wake to the promises of the season.
April, April… Life rekindles
March now behind us.
Tonight I heard eight puffin scouts have been located west of my favourite headland in our inshore waters. Earlier, friends reported the magical ascending song of a skylark as they wandered by abandoned crofts… Common Eider drakes already sit by their concubines… On inspection of the ground, daisies and bluebells have long braved snow, ice and thaws, re-icing and equinox gales. Even within the perimeter of my sanctuary, the grass has grown and would deserve a serious cut. Spring, voar, so precocious.
Light reappears on the 60th North Parallel.
I read somewhere that between the two solstices – and more precisely as we approached the Vernal Equinox – we were gaining up to two hours of light every month… Now, as April has entered in the great cosmic ballroom, my sunrises and sunsets are becoming more epic.
Strangely enough, fog has already been rolling on from our local hills. “Exotic” and “curious”, for fog remains an oddity before April… February and March both felt odd in places.
Yet April promises (or do I really take this for granted?) liberation from many claws – storms, gales, and other signatures from the icy months. And if I have yet to listen to my first skylark, I know it will not be long. The sky just needs to quieten a little more and our star to warm up those acres of storm-bent grass around our meadows… Wake, wake, wake, wake!
April is when you return to me.
As I am typing you are gradually falling asleep. Your case is packed. Your passport lies in a pocket of your handbag… Tomorrow, you too will begin your migration north – north by NE, as you will cross that stretch of your Irish Sea to find your way back in Glasgow before making your way to my North Sea from the mouth of a sheltered harbour. We can travel the world like swallows… or Storm Petrels. But to journey, we need a boat.
I may not wait for you from my favourite headland on Saturday, But I will gladly watch that great blue Viking efigee on the white hull we call da boat approach my favourite offshore island of Mousa at about 6.30 in the morning and drive parallel to you, as the bow kisses each wave from our sheltered waters. If we are lucky enough, Mother Sea will let you enter the Bressay Sound with grace.
It will be your first time. Selkies and seagulls will salute you on your passage. You are about to return to me as seabirds find their way across miles of oceanic deserts, da Roost to reconvene with my headlands, bays and meadows.
Now, my turn to find sleep from my northern latitude, as I will be by your side tomorrow, in voice and spirit. I have prepared home to welcome you on my northern island.
In anticipation to your arrival, I wrote a piece entitled North Voyager. It sounds and reads like a leitmotive… And yet it does epitomise that promise from Spring.
With the Vernal Equinox, that sense of joy and revival, as Mother Earth awakes and grows deep in her bounty and belly, comes an invitation to create, celebrate, as today, Wednesday 21st of the third month, was chosen as our World Poetry Day.
The chance to reconnect with ourselves as Mother Earth’s children, and allow creativity to flow like sap inside our souls.
It is exactly what happened this morning during Period 3 in the classroom with Fourth Year pupils who wished to practise their own creative writing skills through poetry.
They asked me for the first theme, whilst they picked the second.
They sat down inside our world, and, with a few words of guidance, began to write their poetics. Not only happy to hint them into using their own senses, they asked me, the poet, to write my own.
It drips and clops like
a metronome against time,
Clop, clop, clop, clop…
that sense of Spring past Equinox, as they lash into their
cold water unleashed from clouds;
aborted, unborn icicles,
unwanted so late inside March.
I hear them crash against windows, on every corner of
meadows, and feel them
drop inside the
warmth of my collar, as
morning vanishes in
There isn’t a pebble in sight,
polished by angry tides,
riptides and rollers
rolled in wrath
a jealous moon pulled & twisted.
But there are prints from
our own past,
hundred of footprints in white sand
a gale will blow, obliterate through
hands of time, like
a school slate wiped by a child,
timetables & mathematics in
an attempt to unwind
Now your turn to be creative and celebrate the spoken word on this fine day! 🙂
On the topic of migration, hirundines – the embodiment of summer – and swallows in particular have always captivated my heart. I remember them nesting under the roof in rue de la Libération in Gisors as a child; and their return every year throughout life – wherever I have settled – remains magical.
Today I watch them return on the island, so far away from my grandmother’s home, and every time they rekindle that moment of discovery as a child… They fly from West Africa to reach us. Their journey feels incredible – travellers without papers across our northern hemisphere. They come to create the next generation – they have two homes, they are the product of two worlds, and they embody with so much grace many of us, humans, who have been blessed with more than one home…
A powerful allegory.
Here, to celebrate those amazing avian wanderers, a string of micropoetry, first written in French, then, translated in mirror.
des anges habillés bleu et noir,
avec dans leurs yeux, du courage;
l’iris riveté au soleil, avides d’amour hors des nuages, sous
les génoises, elles font un voeu.
they, angels clad in black & blue,
with courage in their eyes;
iris riveted to the sun, avid to love in cloudless skies, under
a roof they make a wish.
elles traversent déserts, champs et mers,
se confient aux cours d’eau, les chansons de la terre
pour retrouver enfin une once du berceau.
they fly across deserts, meadows and seas;
confide to waterways, the many earthly songs, to
find at last an ounce from home.
Je les entends venir enfin,
leurs longues plumes dans mon ciel,
s’arrêter sur un fil de fer, entre iris et mur de pierres,
un rebord de gouttière,
la latitude de leurs ancêtres.
At last I hear them come,
their long feathers inside my sky,
to perch on a wire, in between iris and stone walls,
I always associate the coming of cherry blossoms at the foot of the Luberon with my grand mother’s change of world. To me, she flourishes every spring, and this year, I arrived just in time, for the season is precocious.
Already most fruit trees had shed most blossoms… Only a few quince and cherry trees gave me that joy. The kitchen garden well ahead for April. I landed back at Marseille-Provence in soaring temperatures, thanks to a twist of luck that allowed me to to fly direct from Edinburgh the very morning I left my northern roost.
And what a trek across the sky 🙂
My favourite mountain, Luberon, so majestic, as we descended into Marseille… Giono’s blue whale so bright and clear by afternoon.
Marseille, gate to the East and Africa, Massilia-Massalia, founded by Greeks, grown by Romans, with les îles du Frioul and If in the foreground, minutes before landing. La Grande Bleue, plain and magic.
I shan’t forget such moments. Always a thrill from my humble seat inside the fuselage. This year, I reconvened with JJ and Monique, whom I had such pleasure sharing with again. JJ fell in love with my poetics and he is very sensitive to artists and poets. As a matter of fact, he invests in art as a benefactor. We shared beautiful conversations and he is becoming to know me much better now. Let’s see what is going to heave out of those moments of sharing. 🙂
Ten days inside blue could be called a fantastic symphony. I reconvened with Les Huguenots, where life turns out immoveable, but also with relatives and my close friends from Pertuis, Isa and Michel, who hosted me for two days – sheer moments of pleasure.
Two days with my lifelong friend and her clan, including her grand children. We had lots of fun jam-packed in and around their home. Moments of pleasure.
Out of ten days, an afternoon tainted by grey and rain, as April strikes in any form. That heat heaved thunder and lightning in one afternoon. Not surprising as the thermometer had soared a bit too quickly to my taste.
The air turned more breathable, colours vanished and the whole of the sky blackened to unleash its madness. That palm tree and flowers suddenly yielded to its wrath and felt the weight of freak clocking rain.
It prompted a poem, entitled l’orage / the storm.
En un éclair,
le ciel est devenu métal, nuages de
charbon et d’acier.
Fort de ton flash, ciel
tous les oiseaux se sont cachés, entre les fleurs du cognassier.
Sous les tuiles je t’entends gronder,
glisser les gouttes de ta colère sur toutes
les feuilles de l’olivier.
Et sous le poids de ton humeur,
toutes les tulipes se sont courbées – robes d’or et
de rouge, leurs pétals protègent
Le vent fait frétiller les palmes toutes luisantes de la pluie;
nettoie ce ciel chargé de cendres,
décharne un peu plus le vieux chêne.
Tu montes le ton et vide
Et maintenant tu t’envenimes et te déchaînes!
Son et lumières, tes perles tombent
drues, s’écrasent sur tout
ce qu’elles touchent;
sacageur de bleu provençal, dans la maison
je trouve refuge, et me souviens
du mot frisqué.
turned metallic in a flash, with clouds tainted
charcoal and steel.
all the birds hid between the flowers of the quince.
I always have to make things up to distract my heart from this one.
Month of rainbows, dark and tears, March is the wild beast in my head. This year, for the very first time, it feels somewhat different.
Time-tight schedules, activities that keep my soul right off the edge of oblivion, March is flying like a comet.
Some extraordinary meeting with amazing poets, including freshly former Makar (Scotland’s National Poet) Liz Lochhead – as pictured above – during a night of poetry at the Shetland Library; whilst reconvening with Welsh-born Emma van Woerkom, on a short-stay on the island for our local fire festival (SMUHA) proved so much light and breaths of fresh air!
Such two slices of life took me temporarily from my ivory tower, as Compass Head is mutating into a book 🙂
Light has returned on the island, and with it, the spirit of #voar, “planting season” as we know it on the windswept, wild 60N latitude.
There’s still a few miles to go, but it looks bright till publication.
The Federation of Writers (Scotland) is an organisation dedicated to making the written and spoken word available to the public of Scotland, with respect for diversity and recognition of additional support needs. Caidreachas nan Sgrìobhaiche (Alba) ’S e prìomh-amas Caidreachas nan Sgrìobhaiche (Alba) litreachas sgrìobhte is labhairte a chur mu choinneamh poball na h-Alba, a’ toirt spèis do dh’iomadachd agus feumannan-taice a bharrachd.