#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry, Uncategorized

#52weeksofnaturepoetry Week 5 – Night Walking

Sounds of the road niggle at our backs,

shaking the illusion that we’re in the wild.

But I can ignore it, for a time.

Tonight, eagerness fills me:

We’re out after dark! What creatures will we see?

New torch in hand, I creep along,

ears honed to each whisper of leaves,

each disjointed splash

from the regular gurgling of the stream alongside us.

Light swings to the area; I temporarily summon the sun.

Feathered ferns sprawl from the ground, young maples at their sides.

Bramble, ivy, a fallen oak with spindly fingers of fresh growth.

And everywhere, single strands of glossy spider silk

stretching up, up,

like Rapunzel’s hair if she were given a sudden electric shock.

Too thirsty to care that our heads are turned its way,

a rat breaks through the foliage to sip its fill.

Yet aside from that, nothing else ventures near.

Nothing calls. Nothing chitters.

Have we walked into a void?

Is the fog, inching in so quietly,

dampening the area’s breath?

Or is the traffic hum, with its heart-thudding sirens,

too much for all but the boldest to come?

My fingers stiffen in the cold, clutched around the torch handle.

Massaging them awake, the light shifts position

and momentarily decorates my vision with spots.

I click the thing off.

Ink moves in around us. The night sighs

and spills with life.

This poem is part of my #52weeksofnaturepoetry project to raise funds for UK wildlife charity RSPB and to encourage an appreciation for nature. If you enjoyed it, please consider sharing it and/or donating to the RSPB via my Just Giving page here.

Help keep wildlife wild.

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry, Uncategorized

#52weeksofnaturepoetry Week 3 – Encounter along Connie’s Way

Scamper.

What was that?

Grey flash in the brambles – ghost

of a swift-pawed scavenger

foraging by the river.

Hold a beat.

                Hush now.

Gently. Gently.

Torch level, breath misting.

Then: bright eyes, whiskers all a twitch,

pink toes resting on the base of a tree

while nose lifts upwards, hopeful for tangy whiffs.

No luck here.

Faces us; What you looking at?

Gone.

Rope-tail the last thing we see

disappear.

This poem is part of my #52weeksofnaturepoetry project to raise funds for UK wildlife charity RSPB and to encourage an appreciation for nature. If you enjoyed it, please consider sharing it (including reblogging) and/or donating to the RSPB via my Just Giving page here.

Help keep wildlife wild.

Poetry

All the lives around us #WorldAnimalDay

They’re in the grass, the soil, the peat

They make their residence in lakes and trees.

Some scurry underfoot

Or soar above heads

Wriggle on bellies or stand on legs.

Some have been confused for mythical creatures —

Unicorns, sirens — because of their features.

They’re all around us, every day.

Some even share our homes and encourage us to play.

But whether they’re family or wild through and through,

When they’re mistreated, driven out, abandoned

We can make a difference

By helping them rebuild their lives anew.

Reviews, Uncategorized

Non-fiction book review: Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty

A few weeks ago, my nan told me about a book written by an autistic teenager that recently won the Wainwright Prize (which is a UK award focusing on books about nature) and offered to buy me a copy. Naturally, having a great love of nature myself and also wanting to read more autistic voices, I said I’d love to read it. (Though, amusingly, the book is yellow, which is the one colour that is absolute sensory hell for me – an easy fix though, as I simply turned the dust cover inside out.)

The book is written in journal format and is compiled into sections based on the four seasons. It’s difficult to fully articulate my feelings on it, but I’ll try. (A warning, though: this is likely to be a long and rambling post detailing some of my own life experiences rather than just focusing on the book. I promise it will be relevant, though!)

Firstly, Dara’s writing is very evocative and poetic – I had serious writer envy on this one. He seems to have the ability to place you exactly in the situation he’s describing; every detail fed to you as if your own senses were picking it up. At least, that’s how it was for me – maybe it’s because the way my senses work are very similar to his, but judging by the amount of praise this book has had, I doubt it’s just that. This did, however, present something of a problem in that it was sometimes too much for me to handle. My head would be reeling after reading a section just like it does when I’m experiencing sensory overload. I was also a little intimidated at the beginning by the sheer knowledge he has; every species and sub-species mentioned is identified, which meant a lot of names to get my head around. I did get used to it once I got past the first quarter, but it took some time. But nature has been central to his entire life, so it makes sense that his knowledge is so vast.

Secondly, his passion leaks from every word, and while noting the intricacies and completely fascinating things, he also goes into detail about the very real threats to the world (I would say the natural world, but we are part of nature rather than separate from it): climate change, deforestation, hunting, pollution, just to name a few. Now, as mentioned above, nature is one of my loves too, and I’m very passionate about protecting it. But over the years, the apathy and unkindness of others has beaten down my willingness to express why it’s important to me. I used to share all the petitions I sign on my social media pages, but now only share a handful, and in 2013, I tried fundraising for a charity (Cool Earth – check them out if you can) by getting tattooed in the armpit, only to have very little response. Realising that I’d pretty much silenced myself without even knowing came as quite a shock. And I felt like I’d let myself and the environment down, that I wasn’t doing enough.

But I kept reading, and as Dara also documents his mental health, having experienced intense bullying at school because of his interests, I came to understand that the key to why I stopped was because my own mental health wasn’t good enough to handle such negativity. That, and I get so overwhelmed about how much of a crisis the world is in that I feel like I might be crushed by it.

However, I also came to realise that though I haven’t been as vocal as I would like, I’ve still continued doing things to try and bring about the changes I’d love to see. I still sign petitions, and when my finances allow, I donate to relevant charities. I also sneak bits into my books to generate awareness, like including several stories focusing on endangered animals and deforestation in my short story collection, When the Bard Came Visiting, and having characters interact with nature in quite profound ways. So, while I might have too much anxiety to go to a climate march (not that that would be a good idea during the current pandemic), or experience too much overwhelm to constantly share facts about how much the rainforests have been cut down or the oceans have been polluted by plastic and oil spills, I can continue to do the little things within my area of expertise. And if I spark even one person’s passion for the environment, then it’ll be worth it.

Now, back to the actual book.

Dara’s ability to reflect on his experiences is really what makes this book come together, and though at first it seems quite simple, it covers an awful lot of ground. As I mentioned above, he talks about mental health and bullying, and how it’s often quite hard for autistic people to express themselves. I know from my own experiences how difficult it is – the ideas are there in my head but refuse to come out in any intelligible way. He also splashes in bits of Irish and world mythology here and there, which creates yet another layer to what he’s reflecting on. I really loved reading those parts.

In short (after taking far, far too much space going over the ‘long’), this book is a beautiful exploration of our world and being part of a minority within it, and despite the mental turmoil it caused within me, left me with an awful lot of hope, too.

If, as I would urge, you decide to pick up a copy, you can get it here. I would also encourage you to check out his blog and Youtube channel too.

Poetry, Uncategorized

Overcrowded

The hourglass is set, sand fills the corners of my eyes.

Dust particles react to the sounds like fairies grouping around a newborn.

Swarming, the buzz can sometimes be unbearable

and all I want to do is wake up.

But no matter how hard I pinch or how sharp a pin I prick myself with

it doesn’t work,

because I’m already lucid.

Poetry

Bog marching

It’s tar, covering my legs, arms, brain.

Clogged up like clockwork that’s been residing at the bottom of a pond for decades.

There are no eagles to pick me up once I’ve reached my destination, but no lava to threaten me as I pick my own path back home.

Time is meaningless and astounding.

I’m in it, not an outsider.

Tick.  Let me wake.

Tock. Let me run.

Poetry

Ghost image

I’ve been thinking,

time and time again,

about the way your face

imprints on me

like those things

with blunt metal pins

that you press into

and they take

the shape of your hand,

only changing if you choose

to erase it.

I can’t erase you.

You’re here with me

whether you like it

or not,

even though

we may never meet again.

Perhaps it’s just

that I don’t want to forget.

Perhaps it’s something more.

Poetry

Mind the wallpaper

Every day I write a line on a sheet of paper,

and put it up on my wall.

They overlap,

white scales with tangles of black moss,

thick like fur and with plenty of space

between the layers

for dust and insects to collect,

just to let me know that clinging

on to old things

results in an unpleasant experience every time.

So if I can, I leave the lines alone –

there to look at in times of desperation

for inspiration

but never to be touched.

The lines aren’t pretty.

They aren’t ugly, either.

They’re simply of people and worlds and war;

not the kind of war with armies,

the kind where self fights self,

sometimes using small words for big problems

and giant words for little problems.

Because who can say when a problem

is big or little

when it lurks solely in the mind?