Song

The posts on this blog so far have all come from the accumulated bits of writing sitting on my laptop. I thought this one could do with a bit of context.

It came to me a year or more ago, when I was lying awake, with the rhythms of Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball in my head, on a Dutch barge belonging to some good friends. The barge, too big for our narrow canals, is moored on a tidal river, and twice a day it is lifted imperceptibly from the mud of the estuary, and just as imperceptibly set back down.

The flat land of the flood plain is protected from the spreading waters by a thin ribbon of raised land which carries the coastal footpath. Walking that path, you look out on one side over mud and reeds to the wider river, and on the other, over fields of sheep and acres of regimented orchards where rabbits tunnel in the flinty soil.

This marshy Saxon Shore feels ancient – the Romans came here long ago. The waters breathing in and out and the wading birds have always been here. But over there a road bridge leaps across the water and huge ships drift by. The modern world is not far away, only held at bay by the constant changing of this liminal place.

 

Song

  1. They are sleeping on the boats now
    To be ready for the flood,
    For the flood they know is coming
    To lift them from the mud.
    For the flood they know is coming
    To wash their fears away,
    They are sleeping on the boats now
    To be ready for that day.

Chorus:

Ten million stars float on the water

Ten thousand trees stand on the fell

A hundred knights sleep in the darkness

A single word to break the spell

 

  1. We are sleeping in the trees now
    To save them for that day,
    For that day we know is coming
    To carry worlds away.
    For that day we know is coming
    To teach us what is good,
    We are sleeping in the trees now
    To keep faith with the wood.

 

  1. He is sleeping by the fire now
    To keep away the cold,
    The cold he knows is coming
    To claim what he has sold.
    The cold he knows is coming
    To take his breath away,
    He is sleeping by the fire now
    Until the shining day.

4.

It is sleeping in the words now
The mem’ry of this life,
This life we know is slender
And bladed like a knife.
This life we know is fragile
And speeding fast away.
It is sleeping in the words now
The echo of this day.

Copyright © 2014 Fliss Watts

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The long walkers

A very short story:

None of them knew how long they had been walkers. Once there had been a librarian who walked with them, pushing his rickety handcart, full of its accumulation of little books called ‘diaries’, ‘calendars’, knotted string and notched sticks, piled on top of the even older volumes saved from the time before. He had tried so hard to keep a record of the days, by whatever means available, as the world changed.

He would read to them in the long evenings, myths and stories, songs and incantations, random fragments from their past. They called out for their favourites – ‘we want Riddles in the Dark, we want St Crispin’s Day! We want Closing-down sale.’ They liked the rhythms of the orphaned words, whose faded, floating meanings evoked long lost magics: ‘refrigerator’, ‘television’, ‘discount’, ‘door’.

They had buried him in the end, along with his cart, as it was ‘not to be removed from Sainsbury’s’.* And no one else could see the point of dragging the awkward thing around, full of useless objects. They had left the once-smooth roads long since, as the tarmac turned to potholes and the places the roads took them were emptied of scavenge-able stuff or disappeared under rising waters.

They marked the grave with a cairn and carved his symbol on an ancient tree nearby. They thought he would have wanted that. A song was written to remember Sainsbury and his place. Those were the best-kept records now, songs and skills, repeated, stored in minds and bodies, in rituals. But even they could be corrupted, and Sainsbury’s song named no place they could find again, if they had wanted to. Ancient trees will fall, with wind and winters; cairns subside.

The brief span of linear time was ended, that age of progress, of permanent change, of growth and destruction, of borders and wars, of history. The world returned to its eternal circling, summers come and go and come again, nothing new under the sun. The walkers wandered, passing and re-passing. Sometimes Sainsbury’s song was sung, and for a while the librarian walked with them again.

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*For international readers, Sainsbury’s is a British supermarket chain.

Copyright © 2014 Fliss Watts

March Mist

I don’t plan to post every day but as I have a bit of a backlog to work through here is something from earlier this month:

March Mist

13.3.14

Yesterday was haze and brightness,

Hard to see against the sun

And the mild air hinted of spring.

But the mist came down in the space of half an hour…

It is still here today, damp and soft,

Calling up cool autumn mornings long ago,

Walking to school past dew-hung, cobwebbed hedges.

Birds sing – more as minutes pass

Late up today? Waiting for a breath of warmth to clear the air

Robins, blackbirds, chaffinches, and more,

their quick calls sharp against the constant shush of a road over there somewhere,

two fields away.

Then, purling and trilling, a lapwing – heard, not seen

The view of the distant fells has shrunk to barely half a field,

Ghost hedges fade into the grey

Ghost sheep graze.

 

Copyright © 2014 Fliss Watts

First post

I have been encouraged by reactions from friends and relatives (you know who you are) to publish some things, so here goes. This space will be for written work, poems, short stories etc. and also for drawings, prints and other visual art.

Here is a small taster from an old notebook:

Ideas melt like snow,

falling

on an open palm,

falling,

like a whispered benediction

on an upturned face.

And ‘Mixed feelings’ – a drawing  from a more recent sketchbook – which seems relevant to the above, and to my state of mind about starting a blog…

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Well – that’s a toe in the water. I hope to wade in a little deeper in the next few weeks and months.