for Pam Brown Our time starts now Here under home skies I’m reflecting on your question ‘why are there things rather than nothing’ Longing provokes a list A poetry gift catalogue starred with perishables Drifts of privet like improvised walks Apple trees knotting to fractal profusion (is that the same as improvisation?) and silvered by lichen that appears only in winter when the sulphur-crested cockatoos rifling for bitter fruits have gone The pines are listing to the north defying weather Spruce needles are a million candles sprouting from bones (you’d write ‘old old old’ to describe this material endurance) I can hear them again, those cockatoos I bet you don’t want to miss them Botany attracts me I think it’s because of my compulsion to make lists: bulbs planted, birds seen, music played during milk- cloudy months after both babies arrived Who ever is a ‘solitary walker’ these days? I could list the particulars The walks you detail are teeming with humanity Some people visit the places loved by those they admire to walk where they did My friend Tom is walking after Sebald this week I stepped outside the stomach of Westminster to find the gravestone of Aphra Behn but I don’t know if she ever walked there We love things so much that listing each one allows it to arrive permanently ‘Peeling shutters’ Either somebody isn’t serious about keeping out light or your aesthetic radar is suspicious about objects in which we invest sentimentality I find myself wanting anxiously to invest in something Still fired up about belief and ‘sequinned things’ I used to walk near St Stephen’s cemetery past graffiti warning DO NOT FROLIC Authority like that is fine by me I just can’t stand shutting out light selectively Bombarded by socially mediated data The scale of resistance seems unfathomable and we undertake forgetting Another currawong My clock would be mountain-shaped with a bird at every hour and feathers for hands Instead of permanent arrival you write ‘continuous rediscovery’ This is flawless optimism A philosophy of things and how we encounter them Adore some, chastise others, collect a few and forget why they were important to us Susan Stewart writes that collections overwhelm specifics Or more accurately, a collection starts to redraw the limits of each hoarded item so it becomes charged with our stories about its potential Burning futures, old old pasts Collections share a kind of resistance: we survived, felt purpose, kindled our love and loss among featureless days Then time never runs out It returns in another morphology Another group of eyes sweeping the same plain A different set of lungs Your words open and close this morning hour Why ‘things’ rather than ‘nothing’? Nobody knows But it is better that way
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