Sunday, 23 January 2011

Old things

Another year older... tick, tick, tick. And yesterday I was looking through my poem files (all in order, very thick now...). I was doing it for various reasons but partly just because I enjoy doing it. I like looking at what I've done, what I've achieved and not achieved, I like re-evaluating some of the poems, enjoying some again, remembering some of the stories behind them. And I still think that (whatever anyone else says!) the choices that I made for the book in 2008 were right (for me). Mainstream poetry can do what it wants - really I find it a bit of a thin stream, too often heading in only one direction. I'm still glad I did it my way!

Anyway, here's an old poem (about 2005 I think). I've never done anything with it... and I suppose I could change some of it now ('elegant'? My feet? Did I have sunstroke?) and I suppose it all sounds a bit bored housewife (which in itself is a bit boring...). But what can we do... life can be boring at times... and life is what we write about, non?

Sunday afternoon sands

Who are not young
And not old either
Impractical but pretty
Leather flip-flop shoes
In hand

Bare feet
Let us push cares
Cares they call
But what does the world care
For family relationships
Roofers who don't ring back
And the complications of the modern diet?

We reach
As far as we can go
Time limited
We turn round to go
The way we came
We look for prints we left
In vain
We went so lightly
We left no marks

We see
The prints of dogs
Walking boots
But no
Size 6

We ask ourselves
Is this significant?
Is this beach life?
Does our lack of effect on the sand
Mean something deeper?
Is that just women all over
Too much bloody symbolism
And nothing left to show for it?

We don't
Know the answers
We get to the steps
That go back to the rest of the world
We brush
Sand from our toes
And put the flip flop shoes back on

RF 2005

One reason I liked this one yesterday is that I realised how related it was to this more recent poem (possibly my favourite of recent poems what I've written). Tracks in the sand, tracks in the snow... and off we go...



Kim Ayres said...

Happy Birthday Rachel :)

Rachel Fox said...

First one with my Mum gone... a funny old birthday this one. It's been lovely so far but I am bit on the 'so filled with emotion I could burst' tip!

Anonymous said...

I think that bare feet do let us push our cares downwards. Beautifully observed.

Wishing you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Rachel. I really enjoy your work. Wishing you a wonderful year ahead XXX

Janie said...

great symbolism! happy birthday, Rachel, I really enjoy reading your poems and the stories behind them.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Definitely one for the next book, I really like it. AND HAPPEE BIRTLINGS DAYO!

hope said...

Happy Birthday!

And yes, women do worry too much...I think it's because we think SOMEONE has to do it and it might as well be us so we don't lose sleep over worrying if the other species remembered to do everything. :)

I like this one because it is so beautifully simple..and I understand. Right down to my own size 6 feet. ;)

Eryl said...

I really like this one. In a few short lines it seems to tell the whole story of women, and, in fact, anyone whose life mostly involves dealing with the crap of reality, unseen. Particularly like the tension you create by those pretty but impractical shoes. That by choosing something pretty, which implies an attempt to be noticed, actually renders her invisible. Not boring at all!

Happy birthday to you, X

Noxalio said...

Happy Birthday Rachel!

this is a wonderful piece ... distantly reminiscent of a muti-part i posted at the end of 2009, especially part 3, what do you think?

anyway, i'm so, sorry for your loss and i hope you have a year filled with harmony and cheer (btw, mine was last week ...)


The Bug said...

I like what Eryl said - although I feel like I lead an invisible life sometimes & I wear PRACTICAL shoes. But then sometimes I prefer to be invisible...

Hope you've had a good birthday :)

Niamh B said...

Happy trekking, your poems leave their mark wherever they go.


Rachel Fenton said...

I love walking in the sand and looking at the footprints - nothing more grounding than having your kids scramble your perfect pasty prints!

Happy birthday. x

Rachel Fox said...

Having such a lovely day... thanks for all good wishes.

Hope... I think maybe a US size 6 is different to a UK one... we'll have to compare!

And as for the shoes... on the whole I do tend to pick practical over pretty (trainer, walking boots etc. - never heels!) and maybe that's why the matter got into the poem. These shoes were nothing Sex & the City would get excited about... but no bloody use for walking further than a short distance! Zoe chewed one of them when she was a pup... her comment on the subject.

Thank-you Noxy and hello.


NanU said...

Walking barefoot on the beach is one of the essentials of life, with the cleansing ocean always wiping the slate for a new day. Nice one, Rachel!

Titus said...

Happy Birthday!

Interesting poem as it's exploring a woman's prints - I'm reading Adrienne Rich 'Diving Into The Wreck' at the moment. Do men leave different footprints? I'm now pondering.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I've never regretted moving to live near the sea, NanU!

T - just went to read that poem. God, she's a drama queen! Enjoyed it though, in its way.
I don't know about men and women and the prints business... the answer (as so often) is yes AND no.


Rachel Fox said...

But certainly I was thinking about what marks women leave (in art, in history, in literature) when I wrote this (as well as just 'my day on the beach'... hence the 'we', I suppose). It is getting better (woman laureate, woman makar...) but that's only recently. Every poet we studied in school was male, for example. But at least it IS getting better. And of course male/female is not the only difference between peoples!


Titus said...

Much room for a major Rich discussion, as I am now, of course, an expert! Lots of sexuality stuff in her work too.

Interesting all, and then what's the front page of The Times today. Andy Gray and Richard Keys slagging off woman referee Sian Massey and women in football in general - 'Offside? How would you know love?'. Of course, they thought the mic was off.

Train! Gonna miss the train!

Rachel Fox said...

I think 'they thought the mic was off' could be a good book title...

Marion McCready said...

Hope you had a lovely birthday, wish we had sandy beaches over here, we have a beach called 'Sandy Beach' - what a joke!

Rachel Fox said...

Nice one at St Andrews... and you'll be there soon, won't you? The beaches on this east coast stretch are fantastic - as beautiful as any anywhere!


Domestic Oub said...

Oh, I love that poem. Sadly sleep depreived brain is too mush to elaborate. Loved it.

Enchanted Oak said...

This is a good poem to give us on your birthday. Both are journeys that sometimes force one to wonder what if any footprints she will leave behind. Did your mother leave footprints? Mine did. I'm learning to recognize the easily-missed signs of her influence.
Happy Birthday.
xo Chris

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Oub. And family...

My Mum certainly touched a lot of people (as it were). I've had lots of letters from people (friends of hers, friends of mine, family) telling me how marvellous she was and what she did for everyone. She was very kind and generous... that's not a bad print to leave (and she was totally not interested in her own ego really). She was particularly kind to and concerned about children - always put them first, wasn't selfish. Hard act to follow!


Kat Mortensen said...

Funny I just read a line in a book the other day about a character's actual emotional unsteadiness being interpreted as the shifting of beach-sand beneath her feet.

Those roofers aren't just in Canada, then?

Rachel Fox said...

The roofer... when we first moved to Scotland we weren't sure how it would go so we kept our (old, old) Yorkshire house and were sort-of landlords for a few years. Stress? Stress! We had to replace the roof and I don't know how much else... all from miles away. Never again.


Philip Dodd said...

I liked that one a lot, I'm glad you dug it out

Rachel Fox said...