Yesterday I gathered together some pictures of bugs that have appeared on the blog over the years. Today, along with a new photo of a recent unidentifed visitor to the house, I thought I’d gather together a few of the fragments of poetry that I’ve posted here on the same broad subject.
It was probably clear when I wrote about one of my very early poems that I’ve been writing about creepy crawlies pretty much since I was old enough to write. However, since I was brought up in the UK, the bugs weren’t as exotic as those featured in yesterday’s picture gallery.
These lines from Rain doesn’t stop play (see Thor’s Day) are based on a memory of a particularly wet summer:
Sidestepping slugs high-tided on the garden path,
we’ll stomp through puddles, dodge squished worms,
and glory in Thor’s bounty. The fields give up
their mysteries to worshippers in wellingtons:
we’ll poke in sodden earth with sticks, release
white bloated maggots to writhe and squirm,
choked on dazzling water, while the dogs run,
cartwheeling rainbows all around.
I suppose the contrast with childhood memories accounts for my fascination with the insects here in Spain, which I very much associate with the dry weather:
at every step
my toes launch grasshoppers.
The fine weather means that I spend a lot of evenings sitting outside under the vine as the sun goes down. On such occasions, the heat and light of the computer screen mean I am never alone:
The cursor scurries
like an ant across the screen
while a sister ant
the keyboard crevices.
And there’s always a natural soundtrack:
cicadas trill ex-term-in-ate
and a small beige moth turns turtle
in my gin and Kas.
When I say “always”, I’m not kidding: they keep it up day and night, though I think I have mis-identified the creatures making the noise in this extract from the draft version of Time passes:
Crickets creak a tripwire grid
across the garden.
Perhaps it’s just inevitable to write about bugs when you live in Spain.
Certainly there can be few better bug poems than Machado’s Las Moscas:
Vosotras, las familiares,
vosotras, moscas vulgares,
me evocáis todas las cosas.
¡Oh viejas moscas voraces
como abejas en abril,
viejas moscas pertinaces
sobre mi calva infantil!
It’s pretty much untranslatable but those first lines go something like this:
You, the familiar,
you, vulgar flies,
trigger all my memories.
¡Oh, you old flies, voracious
as bees in April,
pertinacious old flies
above my infant head!