street corner; wet night

Yesterday was the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere.

Over the years, I have posted lots of poems here on on the blog marking season changes, solstices, equinoxes, the day we change the clocks, meteor showers and other astronomical and astrological events, but since I’ve been back in the UK this has become increasingly difficult: I’m writing less, and I’m far less tied to the natural rhythms of the planet.

When I lived in Spain, in “the last homely house” on the edge of the pueblo, the Milky Way arched high over the valley like careless paint spatter across a domed ceiling; I was familiar with the phases of the moon and with the constellations; I knew the noises of the half-light of dawn and dusk, and recognised the calls of the creatures of the dark.

Now, though, I live in a semi-urban setting. I haven’t heard the shriek or swoop of an owl nor the nocturnal rustle of a hedgehog in years, and no nightingale sings in a cherry tree outside my window even in the springtime. The sound of ambulance sirens and car tyres swishing along wet roads is simply not the same.

I suppose it was in part because of the climate, but in rural Spain, I seemed to live outside; here, more often than not, the door gets shut and stays shut after dark, and even when I am out and about later on, I don’t tend to reach for my camera as I don’t want to draw attention to myself. Even so, I couldn’t resist these photos last week: the quality of light on the metal chairs in the rain, and the cloud of smoke lit by the street lamp were too tempting.

pub tables & chairs; market square; wet night

There are no poems to go with the pictures, but here are two different perspectives on night noises taken from my Spanish files:

“Time passes”

2:00 am
Cicadas etch a tripwire grid across the garden.

3:00 am
An owl’s pale velvet hoot
glides through pinedark air.

4:00 am
In vinous trills
the nightingale’s song
ripples from the cherry tree.

5:00 am
The cockerel crows
the fussy hens awake;
they peck and pick, unravelling
the fraying edges of the night.

6:00 am
All round the valley, dogs
worry the straggled threads
of dark; they tug and bark
and run with them
towards the morning.


Sleepless at four a.m.

Beside me
your unchanging breathing
tells me you don’t hear
the noises of the night:

      the constant river
      the church clock
      the velvet owl’s hoot
      and the answering screech
      stray dogs hunting…
                                     A snarl
of cats tumbles through the dark
beneath the window and you stir

only to sleep again. I listen
to your breath and count
the seconds till you wake.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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