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Earth Day, 2020

Happy Earth Day, from a wayward son.

It is hard to characterize my feelings for this weird little rock today, at a time when so much of our access to it has been curtailed, and so much of it is still so in danger from all of those ills we already know about; the habitat loss, species extinction, acidification, continued extraction, the list goes on and on…

I’m certainly no poet, but I’ve been thinking about this day in terms of belonging, of many multiple belongings perhaps, when I felt like I fitted into some part of this world as thoroughly as an ammonite in rock.

Home is the thick gloop of Estuary flats, sticking like plaster to my calves,

Home is the howl and bite of Irish Sea winds over Welsh hills,

Home is the cloud-scatter and brilliance of a brisk sky;

it is the insect-hum and the canvas of hills that make up the South Downs.

It is the towering countries of cummulonimbus, where a younger me fancied they could see distant lands, towers, mountains.

Home is the bustling (loud!) snort of the hedgehog, and the skitter of the fieldmouse that attended the bird table,

Home is the investigations of bumblebees on the eaves of my current house this spring;

Home is the stillness belonging to mossy boulders and crooked trees in an ancient woodland,

Home is watching and laughing with the coughing, miscreant crows through my window.

Home is feathers and pine-cones, rocks and seeds-to-be-planted. It is the ache of work-worn limbs, chapped lips, and cold ears.

Home is hearing the rains outside; and reading our favourite books, aloud in the dark.


In this earlier post, we might have started something; a few words scribbled onto a page; thoughts and feelings and characters falling into place.

Sitting with those first lines, and where you think they might be going, try any or both of these exercises below. Once again write a line or two that follows on. You might find what you write here changes what you wrote in The Story of Us. Or it might not. Sometimes we have to come at things laterally – we have to scout around in the terrain a bit, to get a sense of the place we’re trying to get to.

The Seed.

In the dark of the under-world, in a world of cold and heavy earths, there sat a seed. It had been good and gold and burnished brown when it had been cupped in the fruiting bud of it’s tree. It had felt itself filling up and fattened by the rainwater and food brought to it, up from the roots, down from the skies.

But down here no one could see its colours.

One day, on a day of storms and fierce winds, that seed fell to earth and was swallowed up. Winter fell on the tree and the sky that had held it, and the seed – for a time – disappeared. …

What happens next?

The Stone.

There was once a stone – a boulder, really – solid and strong and laced with the glitter of quartzite like captured stars. It sat patient and stubborn as the winds and rains of centuries washed it, season after season, sun after sun.

Stones think slowly. They are, after all, stone. It took a thousand years for it to notice at all that it had moved, just a little, from it’s place.

What happens next?


A Charm Against The Language Of Politics

A Charm Against The Language Of Politics
by Veronica Patterson


Say over and over the names of things,
the clean nouns: weeping birch, bloodstone, tanager, Banshee damask rose.

Read field guides, atlases, gravestones.

At the store, bless each apple by kind: McIntosh, Winesap, Delicious, Jonathan.

Enunciate the vegetables and herbs: okra, calendula.

Go deeper into the terms of some small landscape:
spiders, for example. Then, after a speech on
compromising the environment for technology,
recite the tough, silky structure of webs: tropical stick, ladder web, mesh web, filmy dome, funnel, trap door.

When you have compared the candidates’ slippery platforms, chant the spiders: comb footed, round headed, garden cross, feather legged, ogre faced, black widow.

Remember that most short verbs are ethical: hatch, grow, spin, trap, eat.

Dig deep, pronounce clearly, pull the words
in over your head.

Hole up for the duration.


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