Friday, September 05, 2014

Owl and mountain and little mole


The trumpeter addressed in my previous post stepped onstage last Sunday night. Since then, he and his older brother have been making the sort of din that reminds me not of Miles Davis' earlier, self-consciously subdued albums but of noisy, electric 1970s epics like Live Evil and Pangaea.

My wife has been preoccupied with caring for our new son, so I've taken over the task of accompanying the older lad to Play Centre, an institution whose earnest, self-deprecating office-holders and painful attempts at consensus-based decision-making remind me of some of some of the left-wing organisations to which I've belonged over the years. The prosaic meetings of the Centre's elders contrast with the anarchic play of its children.

As I search for my son in the lunar depths of the Play Centre sandpit, or try to find an acceptable interpretation - is it a fish, or a bear, or a dinosaur? - for a grotesquely shaped lump of play dough in his hands, I sometimes wonder how strange I must appear to him. I think about this poem, by the underrated Anglo-surrealist Christopher Middleton, which my wife and I included in the private anthology of verses about birth and childhood we made a couple of years ago.

Thanks, by the way, to all the facebook well-wishers. I'll be posting something more prosaic here just as soon as Play Centre duties allow...

For a Junior School Poetry Book

The mothers are waiting in the yard.
Here come the children, fresh from school.
The mothers are wearing rumpled skirts.
What prim mouths, what wrinkly cheeks.
The children swirl through the air to them,
trailing satchels and a smell of chalk.

The children are waiting in the yard.
The mothers come stumbling out of school.
The children stare primly at them,
lace their shoes, pat their heads.
The mothers swirl through the air to cars.
The children crossly drive them home.

The mothers are coming.
The children are waiting.
The mothers had eyes that see
boiled eggs, wool, dung and bed.
The children have eyes that saw
owl and mountain and little mole.

2 Comments:

Blogger Fatal Paradox said...

"...Play Centre, an institution whose earnest, self-deprecating office-holders and painful attempts at consensus-based decision-making remind me of some of some of the left-wing organisations to which I've belonged over the years."

Just wanted to say as a demoralised ex-marxist who has only recently returned to the workforce after 10 months of being a stay-at-home Dad (and Playcentre parent), I can certainly empathise with the sentiment expressed here!

8:41 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Ha! Hope the job's treating you more gently than those PC meetings, Tim!

Believe it or not, though, I'm managing to do some research into history at PC - one of the mums is a direct descendant of a Bounty mutineer, and another caregiver has a family member who was deported to Somes Island during WW2!

11:26 pm  

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