Friday, January 04, 2008

flying, refrain, Chinese tea

In a recent poem posted on her site , Tall Girl wrote of having dreamed that she had "flown majestically downstairs". When he was very young, my bother Michael, claimed to have flown downstairs. We were living at the time in a house called Windwhistle in Sidmouth, Devon and he must have been four at the time. Grownups said that he had been dreaming, but he believed that he had achieved this feat. I have never dreamt of flying downstairs, but I did share Michael's belief that I could fly, vertically and standing to attention. Hence this poem, which I wrote two or three years ago:

The art of flying
is not to know how
To do it, or when or whether to or why.
Ascent is calm, vertical, slow,
Feet are together, arms to the side,
Mind empty, cool, ready
For all or nothing,For sunlight or cloud
Or silver lines of rain,
Careless of where you float,
As up you go, tidy as a chess piece,
Dignity intact, demeanour modest.
Flapping is out
Of the question, buzzing is too.
There'll be no business for you to do.
No bottom line, no plan or bold design or swoops or plunges.
Steady it is.
Discretion is the guide.
And should some person catch your eye
As you float past a chandelier
Or steeple, try
To ignore his stare,
As though for him to stand,
Feet on the ground, eyes strained upwards,
Neck at forty-five degrees,
Is what is truly odd.
Let him suppose you
An angel on the way to God
Or a raptor, which hovers above
To spot, its prey in the long grass.
Do not, then, enlighten him.
If you have flown, you should forget
That you have flown.
It is enough that you
Should be the better for it,
Having seen further than most
And felt the wind under your feet.

This Christmas we had a present of Chinese teas in long, sealed, brown paper packets. The names are intriguing - Narcissus Gold Oolong, Flowering Green, Gunpowder Pearls and Gold Tip Pueth. So far we have embarked on the Pueth. You feel you have to compose yourself for the experience and empty your mind in order to appreciate the gentle aroma and faintly bitter taste. It is far removed from your average English cup of tea. Is it my cup of tea.? It think it may grow to be.

I had to buy a new printer because the ink cartridges for the old one had come to cost more than a new machine of equivalent specifications.The new one makes a noise, which I interpret as Rambo, rambo... Rambo...Rambo... as it operates. Or in a more intellectual mode Rimbaud...Rimbaud...Rimbaud..."


Lucas said...

I love this poem about flying. I think the advice to the flyer about how to handle the person who catches his eye is very useful. I will remember it.

Lucy said...

The poem as light and subtle as the Chinese tea. I like 'up you go, tidy as a chess piece'.

The travel writer Dervla Murphy was of the belief that she might really have flown downstairs, and quotes another writer, I forget who, as having the same conviction, the memory not having the quality of a dream.

Unknown said...

My brother always maintained that he had really flown down stairs and recalled precisely how he had turned the corner of the stairs, crossed the hall way, entered the room on the other side of the hall, and landed on a sort chest, which is the only piece of furniture in that house that I can remember, seventy years later. If he were alive today, he would describe his flight even more precisely.