My father’s recent move away from the village I grew up in meant another goodbye, though my impressions of the place live on in me, and my writing. I like to share an old, bitter-sweet lyrical poem, which recalls an aspect of my experience growing up in a village. It leaves out the lake, the mountains, and the church-bells – their marking of time could make an epic- their melodic ring still sounds once every quarter of the hour, and every hour in full from morning to midnight, so that people should not lose themselves in relative time.
The Village Poem
Through the veil of time I drop to the heart of my village,
child again, inhaling dust and summer-heat.
Drawn to the bright blue tiles in the dairy, I suck cool air,
watch the jet of buttermilk spool from pump to cup like silk.
The milkmaid frowns at the antics of our pianist, whose mass
of silver hair trails dangerously close to a display of camembert,
while her left hand swings a crystal pendulum, her daily rite
in search of resonance. I hold an image of her fine hands
striking keys on a white grand, giving air to Bach and Brahms
below the star-lit night, painted on her study’s cupola.
She is my link to otherness, the unseen in me, the odd child,
who rejects the cream for the undercurrent of her dream.
Crisp greens at the grocer, white roots, red fruit and purple aubergines.
The woman flicks brown paper to a cone, scoops pickled kraut:
‘Take it, to nibble on your way.’ Warm wafts of steam rise up
from the cellar of the bakery, a scent of cinnamon lingers in the street.
Taming and bonding takes place; it’s easy to love and be loved
when food is bait and the tongue’s code for paradise is taste.
In shops, daily gossip thrives, turning the fate of familiar faces.
Sweet tongues do sour talk – the time it takes to pay – a hero is made
or falls from grace. Spells are cast: ‘No good will come of it,’
and refrained, ‘Just as I said, I knew it form the start.’
Confused, I veil my face and seek the last shop in the street.
Here my village becomes the village and its many tales can be read.
I inhale the vast promise of virgin books
and a smell of print more exciting than bread.
* * * Ashen
An areal photo of my village, taken by my father.
Then there is me with my mum at the lake …
And a class picture, taken around that time, from primary school. You can click on the images here to enlarge them.
27 responses to “… village poem …”
I love it! I was brought up a city mouse, so this sounds like something out of a fairy tale to me.
Fairy tale it was. The city mouse must have a fascinating part in such tale 🙂
lovely post, I hope you are not too saddened by this change, the thing about memories is that you can take them and hold them wherever you are as you have proved with this lovely poem.
I’m feeling quite sad at the moment. And yet, every memory has hundreds of threads leading into different realities – the Mana for writers.
Wonderful post as always. Has anyone ever told you that you have a lyrical spirit? As a country village mouse myself, I have very fond memories of grwoing up climbing trees, running barefoot through the fields and playing pooh sticks in the stream. Just magical! A lovely post, Ashen! 🙂
Thanks. Running barefoot, climbing trees, yes, and tree houses, they even feature in my novel. The best gift my son received from his family was the environment of a Somerset Hamlet for the first 5 years of his life. At least he knows where eggs come from 🙂
Yes…I must say having lived in worked in London for a few years, made me cherish the countryside I grew up in and of course made me long to get back to it.
Lol! Yes…a few of the children I used to teach in London, had seriously never seen a cow or chicken and had no idea where their food came from!
BTW, I can’t wait for Course of Mirrors, do let me know of any developments. I have a space on my bookshelf with your name on it! 😀
Yes, early stimulation of the senses enriches lives. After all, we learned everything we know from nature, and the qualities of animals live in us.
Re: my novel. I’ve ignored a few offers from small publishes and only queried once to a publisher who wanted to represent CoM, before a sudden takeover meant the imprint had to be dropped. There’s an effort to find another home for the book.The initial acceptance gave me a boost. I’ve since written several short stories and am steeped into writing a sequel.
Yes, there’s a big part of me that misses the time when life was simpler. When the best thing in the world was climbing a high tree and spending the afternoon listening to the birds and being with nature…Real peace of mind. 🙂
Well done you honey! Yes, it’s a pretty tricky path finding a publisher and the right one…huge good luck to you sweetie and keep going you are well on your way! xx
A lovely poem, Ashen. For me it evokes the intensity of sight and sound and taste and smell that we enjoy in childhood before the burden of experience dulls the senses.
So which one are you in that picture? I have a guess. 🙂
The class picture, I mean.
The one with the skirt blowing sideways. I introduced the miniskirt 🙂 Got me into trouble with the headmaster. Not the wonderful, best teacher ever, in the picture.
I guessed right! 🙂
Nice poem, Ashen. Made me hungry. Do you write poetry nowadays too? :))
Poems come in phases but never fit the trendy poetry scene. Some on this site (not recent ones) https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/poems/
I took part in The Rambling Poets at Cafe Cyber, created online, at authonomy. It was published, there should be link on the right somewhere.
Are you writing poetry?
BTW, just shared your Modern Russian Literature post on Twitter. I enjoy Pelevin’s book. Nutcracker cracks me up 🙂
Sounds like you are a distinguished poet, Ashen. I used to write poetry in Russian when I was a kid and then a teenager. When Imovedto UK I started song writing, so now I combine my passion for music and poesy. Thank you for sharing my blog posts on Russian lit 🙂
I’ll have a closer lookat your poetry
Sweet memories. A poem well-done.
I’m glad you think so, Donna.
Such wonderful memories! I understand the sadness, leaving behind cherished places. This past spring we sold our family cottage that had been in the family for several generations. It had been a refuge for my mother and a childhood retreat for me. It was unfortunate that, with my parents’ passing, that we three children left behind could no longer afford to keep it.
It’s good you have the photos to refresh your memories when they fade with age. You an always revisit those special places in your mind. 🙂
Oh I’m with you there, Linda. Places hold memory of everything that happened there, even just thinking about a place can re-ignite the light on what we experienced there and all manner of associations, and yet, in a strange way, a place can live on even more powerfully real in our imagination.
Just to let you know, I’ve nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. 🙂
Thanks Susan, a great honour. I am going to explore the bloggers you yourself nominated. I left a message on your site.
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I love this poem. It evokes a very foreign place, but a place so easily imagined. Where is it? From the pictures I’d have said Bavaria or Austria.
Thanks, Jane. The place is a small village at the shores of Starnbergersee, one of the Alpine lakes south of Munich.
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