Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TUESDAY POEM - Second Nature

It's leaf-scuffing time in our part of the world. I've been appreciating the industry of earthworms.

for Tomas

My son rescues foolhardy earthworms
ensures they get a safe ride home
on his skateboard. It's old, well-used
enough for the grip-tape to hold,
not graze an earthworm's body.

He takes care not to go too fast.

When we're out in the car, we keep a watchful eye
on the road - not because of the traffic, mind
but in case after rain, earthworms might
slither onto verges, tackle the pedestrian crossings
attempt to take on the city's traffic.

"We can't just leave them" he protests
They'll keep on creeping to the middle
of the road. They have no eyes to see
no obvious front or back."

He has a point. Besides, I have my own soft spot
for earthworms, the more since chameleons
bent in gnarled attitudes of prayer
have long since left my garden.

Back home in the kitchen - the earthworms
safely transferred from tarmac to skateboard deck
to fresh-cut grass - I pull out a book
and introduce my son to Rousseau's famous Dream
painting; yellow-eyed tigers stalking
long-legged lotuses, the sound
of a primitive wind instrument
a daytime moon.

In the bottom right-hand corner, he draws
my attention to an enormous earthworm
just leaving.

CB 2006

Henri Rousseau - The Dream (1910)

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  1. Claire, Henri Rousseau and I are both smiling at the thought of you two tender, worm-loving souls.

  2. ". . . chameleons
    bent in gnarled attitudes of prayer . . . " Fresh language!

    Ah, the openness of the young.

    Don't you like the way worms leave that friable earth? What's the word, casting or casing?

  3. Tender, bucolic, timeless ... Mim's eye already beat me to my favorite line.

  4. Casting: a convoluted mass of earth or sand ejected onto the surface by a burrowing worm.
    • a pellet regurgitated by a hawk or owl.

    Thank you, Mim. I love the way the dictionary definition accommodates the burrowing worm and the airborne hawk and owl!

    Yes, the openness of the young... they remind us to slow down and take care, regardless of whether we drive cars or not.

    I do miss the chameleons from my African garden - still sometimes expect to find them on the fynbos and lemon verbena.

  5. Bless you, Timoth... Until Tomas pointed out the earthworm in this painting, I had never noticed it was there!

  6. Thank you, John - i love the word 'bucolic'... it conjures up cows and cow parsley, moles and voles burrowing into their own seventh heavens!

  7. Claire -- Do you know the C Darwin book on Earthworms?

  8. Children bestow to us poets so many blessings, many as humble as the lowly earthworm. Great stuff, Claire!

    wv: slism; The worm slismed across the grass....

  9. Your poem has aroused in me an absolutely new appreciation for earthworms! Thank you Tom and Claire. Boy - have we got a lot to learn from children about seeing, feeling, and acting on what we see and feel.

  10. I love this poem of yours Claire. The capacity of children to look is a gift we must not lose - you definitely still have it and the rest of us benefit from it too as you use it to discover, translate, understand and then convey it to us your readers, in sublime, supple, fresh language - you gifted woman you! xx

  11. What a great poem - it sparks so many connections. Thank you!

  12. Geoffrey - thank you for the CD reference.

    Time to get burrowing. ; )

  13. Dear T. Clear, Pam & Kay --- our children teach us many things about looking and about the importance of small details and lowly creatures, yes. Mind you, they teach us many things about many things! Love and may we all enjoy a happy slism from time to time. C xx

  14. Belinda - welcome to you and your handsome takahe. I enjoyed your Thomas Hardy poem today... and the write up that you posted with it.
    Thank you for visiting and for your warm comment about Second Nature.

  15. There should be a "Like" button on blogs, because I like this poem a lot!

  16. i love his observation, and his heart. i had my own collection of 'saved bugs' as a child. and i also love the 'gnarled attitudes of prayer'

  17. Maggie May - I can imagine your collection of 'saved bugs.' I had one, too ; ) Love the little creatures...

  18. i have walking lately with a couple of very short
    companions: hunter, age 15 months, and quinn, a bit over 2 years old (diff parents...). they see the most amazing things! and can stare at a bottle cap or maple tree wings on the sidewalk for, ohh, 10 minutes.
    taking a walk with them is like seeing a favorite movie in 3-D for the first time!
    (i never noticed the earthworm in Rousseau's painting before!)

  19. Hi Susan - I know just what you mean! Taking a walk with 'short companions' is a treat and an honour. Children speed us up and slow us down - and they remind us to look, and look again, more closely.

    I remember my now-adult children at the crawling stage, finding the knots in our carpet mesmerizing, a fragment of leaf brought inside on our shoes, worthy of their full and unhurried attention...

    How much we have forgotten! Children come along like torches.

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Susan.

    L, Claire

  20. oh, I like Thomas...because I have the same worry about worms crawling across the sidewalk when it's rained so heavily that they'll drown in the earth.
    thank you

  21. Dear Melissa... why am I not surprised at your concern for earthworms? Because you have a tender heart. Thank you! L, C