It’s been quite a long time since I first read a poem to a ‘live’ audience. A few years in fact. Last week I got around to standing up in front of a small group of people in a (fairly) public space again. The occasion was an ‘echo’ event at DCA where people were responding to an exhibition of the unusual slow animations of the artists IC-98. My poem tries to do it’s own explaining, so, I think I’ll just let it…
In response to an exhibition of work by IC-98. Dundee, January 2016.
I saw you twice. At first
You played quite strangely, but later
Familiarity fostered anticipation.
In the in-between were days upon days of rain.
Of Scottish, Finnish dusky noons.
Dreich, dreich, and guy dreich again.
My bum bids me fidget now.
This seat says it really must be art.
But in the in-between I met three tales of time:
1. Aeons to an Icon of Independence
All but all our world’s life to travel,
From supernova to strike her slim face,
Two hundred million years before today.
Found finally by us in evolution, forged
As jewel and knife and arrowhead, and now
Soon to be smithed to a rich man’s pistols.
Split by diamond cutting intelligence,
Braced in burnished wood. A treasure of
Short range environmental control.
2. The Tonka Truck Epoch
Two hundred million years before my tea,
Another ocean beds sheets of potash shales deep
In the shallow earth.
Our mole of helical teeth has long since
Chewed up hill and down dale, fingering beneath and
Far below the sea.
Now done roaming, done deep mining,
Dumped below, its chassis is embalmed
In skins of anthropocene salt.
3. The Centuries of Trees
Rainfall smooths their crinkles
With specular caresses, yielding
Every muscle that there ever was.
He will dorsiflex half his body
To pulse his life to the oceans speed,
To flank and pace the pod.
Her bare skinned sinews stalking,
Mother knows best. Steady, set, before
Her sprint and roar and render.
Lovers tangle, twist and reconnect,
Limbs all convolved to origins’ confusion,
Consciousness at last unclasped.
Wet wood moulds each moment’s movement,
Sounding shapes in unhurried cadences,
Too slow to be heard by dogs.