Reflections/poem biography for Walking under Water

bird in tree“Leaves scramble dogwood;
mute green-veined tongues hide
blackbirds and loosed flowers”

For me, there is both a bleakness and a blessing in rain. It can awaken and refresh, but it can also bring with it the darkest of skies.

This poem was inspired by a tow path walk at a time when I was suffering from depression, and looking for any sign of hope, any way of escaping from these desperate, low feelings.

In many ways, walking has been one of my escapes. It is not that walking lifts the pain, the emptiness inside or makes the world itself brighter, but that such movement takes some of the energy from the negative emotions.

The force of these internal conflicts lessened, the sensation of rain on skin is also a very real reminder of what it is to be alive and feel things. Focussing my attention back on the senses and external stimuli also brings me perspective. Like a lot of people, my thoughts quite often live in the past or future rather than the present, and I think this technique has some elements of mindfulness, coming into the present moment by paying attention to the senses. With this, a slow awareness, or remembering, that my individual pain, no matter how horrendous and life-consuming it may feel, is actually a very small part of the much wider world. There is a strange kind of comfort, almost peace, for me in realising my insignificance in nature’s enduring, adapting and surviving over the millennia. Even viewed against my own lifetime, my suffering is less than a dog-rose petal on the wind.

[This is the point where I also share a small secret. Those who only have plenty-fish, but haven’t read this blog won’t know it, and it may not make full sense to those who read this post but don’t have the collection… This is a poem which has a whole alternative ending. There’s a happier/more hopeful! final stanza that I sometimes use in live readings. So if you have the collection but haven’t heard me read the alternative version but would like the happier ending, try replacing the final stanza in the book with the following:

then listen to the rain sound
its simple song of osmosis,
quenched thirst and greener grass ]

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Points

1) Is it human nature to notice, or actively look for, things in our surroundings that reflect our emotions? Does using precise literal details and scientific metaphor/language help to ground these potentially more ‘Romantic’ (landscape mirroring mood) descriptions? Or create an ‘underwater’ surrealness?
2) Why are there in full stops in this poem? What effects does this create, and does that enhance or detract from your reading of the poem?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Think of a sound that has strong emotional resonances for you. Write a poem/story exploring how and why it has this effect? Consider what sounds other sounds might help to counteract that response or be used to evoke the opposite emotions? (These two questions may form the basis for one poem/story, or might need to be two entirely separate pieces.)  

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.