I remember walking through quiet landscapes
Of English poetry, feeling distant nostalgia,
Drawing out of shadows all those words,
Ideas, metaphors, similes, the usual mechanics
Great poets used in synthetic dreams –
Half asleep, your lightning hit me awake.
For hours, days, an echo of that flash
Rattled around my head – what was it?
Waiting, crouching in a hedge of words
Pulling back dead leaves of autumn, I searched –
And there it was again, streaking across the sky.
Hauling myself up, starting to run, trying to find
The exact spot where you pinned that thunderbolt,
Something so different from the mundane,
From the ‘normal’ careful herd of words,
Like cattle meandering from an open gate,
While yours was a stampede of syllables.
Somehow I tried to avoid the crush of images,
Grabbed one of your poems by the horns.
Slowed it down. But tame it? Impossible.
And that’s how it’s been for 7 years.
The maturity of youth – would that fit?
The rush of a teenager already adult?
But the other evening I saw
Millions of wings soar into the heavens.
Like words in your poems, each bird
Separate, yet close to its neighbour.
Never touching, turning, rising, falling,
A cloud, a murmuration of starlings,
Its amazing shape, ever changing,
As if a master was painting
A living canvas. And then the finale,
As the last line of feathered bodies
Completed their aerial dance, just as night
Fell – but not fallen – the sounds of words
Chattering in my brain. Knowing that
Once those songs have been written
In the sky, or crafted down on your page,
This world would never be the same,
Could never be as perfect, again.
This is a treasure of a poem, Derrick, not only for its recipient, but for all of us!