This poem is taken from Stand 223, 17(3) September - November 2019.

John Whale Two Poems
Wayward Observations

A late April morning with the sun not yet breaking through the thin blanket of cloud. A soft illumination is the result. What will soon be the canopy of the large beech opposite is now covered with blue-grey lanterns. Clumsy woodpigeons struggle to find their balance on the thinner branches, their wings catching against the sprouting twigs. The white lozenge on their necks stands out so much it makes them look like some new species. They struggle to keep upright and fall like drunks, arse-over-tit out of their tree and have to flap awkwardly five or six times to right themselves again in the cold air. This is the fifth or sixth day of the visitation. Are they devouring the casings of the buds or the embryonic foliage itself? I imagine the latter. How much thinner will the canopy be as a result of their relentless gawky feeding? On the evidence of my own sampling of wild leaves, I think of how the green chlorophyllian tang might be transformed inside their avian physiology into that dark metallic bitterness of pink pan-fried pigeon breast.

These are the days of orange-tips and garlic mustard. Drifts of it crowd the verge and hedgerow, its spindly flower-heads (like a poor man’s honesty) reach for the light with such speed the bottom pair of playing-card spade leaves is already yellowed – and to use Milton’s dry word – sere. This is the sappy springtime where the race is on with the light and nothing this year will have this speed again. I notice some of the straining foxgloves have a kink in them as if the day-length has revealed itself for once in their torque. The brambles seem to have something of the same force – only side-ways – as they reach into empty spaces. These wriggles and writhings are the ghosts and shadows of the world seen only through time-lapse. Who is out there measuring growth in this acceleration of the light? Who has spent time calculating the efficiency of dandelions?
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image