I FEEL THE CONTINENTAL DRIFT


I FEEL THE CONTINENTAL                                                       DRIFT

                                              
of                                          shifting geography:
overhead;
the sun no longer 
                                                         an unfamiliar sea.

A jagged barrier reef surrounds                                                        
                                                                                                                an inaccesible shore
and                    ICE                              –               how thick I do not know
where    water           was        before.

 

Where is that quiet green valley
where       heron       and         kingfisher        flew?
A ridge of stone as bare as bone
BLOCKS IT FROM MY VIEW

 

A flat and recent Sahara
covers remembered hills
and over the top of  my childhood home
the     lurid     lava         s                    p                 i                  l                  l                   s.

 

NO feral  forces fed those fires 

that swept my past away.

NO howling hurricanes spread those flame
                                                 that turned night      to      brightest day.

 

NO           irresistible           seismic           thrust
                                                                                              that mountain range.

pushed  up 

 

Some
weakness
at
the heart of things
permitted                                        all                   this                            change.

My Lovely Amelia


 Amelia

I like nothing better than taking photographs of my lovely Amelia against some famous landmark: Amelia and The Eiffel Tower; Amelia and Nelson’s Column; Amelia and The Coliseum; Amelia and Edinburgh Castle; Amelia and The Angel of the North; Amelia and The Great Wall of China; Amelia and Ayers Rock; Amelia and The Great Pyramid.   I have them all.

Last week we went to India so I could photograph her with The Taj Mahal in the background.  The Taj Mahal looked  wonderfully grand, touched with pink by the setting sun and framed by majestic palm trees. It brought to mind that wonderful photograph of red-jacketed Princes Di  seated primly on the little wall  in front of the oblongs of water with this magnificent pristine building behind her not quite managing to put her in the shade. People have often remarked when I show them my photographs that my Amelia has a touch of Diana about her, the eyes mainly I think, the way she lowers her gaze at times. She is too beautiful for words.

My photograph of Amelia in front of  the Matterhorn, cheeks aglow with the cold. eyes sparkling, head slightly tilted, is another that people seem to like but my own favourite is of Amelia against the background of The Victoria Falls, not just because I have managed to catch little ribbons of  rainbows in the spray behind her with the water seeming to hang in the air like smoke but mainly because I seem to have finally captured that little smile of hers that I think is every bit as enigmatic and beautiful  as the Mona Lisa’s.

The one Amelia likes best is of her outside Buckingham Palace where the Queen and Prince Philip waited patiently till I had taken the photograph before passing between us.

MIGRANTS


Laz MU

We sailed from  Muhii to Cloijo then on to Iglan Porto, picking up what was left of the  Lete people. They were overjoyed to see us. Heroic survivors, they all had stories  to tell – tales of betrayal, lies, theft, promises, brutality, suffering….how they had managed to avoid/outwit the rogue soldiers  left behind from last year’s failed rebellion….  how some of the soldiers were  mere children but children with guns…how it was their own people who had robbed and betrayed them….how once the traffickers had your money that was it as far as they were concerned.
One of the Lete people, in overalls and tennis shoes, tall, well-spoken,  said she was blind, and to take them to Iglan Maché she had hired a guide who had abandoned them as soon as they left Trasmont.  It had taken  her  and her son a year to get as  far as this.

And cost her all the money she had, no doubt. And you’re not there yet, lady, I thought. Not by a long chalk.
” We’ll soon be there, ” I told her.
She was accompanied by a small boy, ten? eleven? who held her hand in both of his and looked fiercely up at me whenever I spoke. Who was looking after who it was difficult to say.
” We’ll be in Mervidia in a couple of days, ” I told her.
” I have some money, ” she said brightly, producing from her overalls for my inspection a thick wad of notes.
The old currency.

” Take it, ” she insisted, almost pleading.

I closed her hand over her valueless money.  “What’s your name?” I asked the boy who turned away from me and pressed himself against his mother’s legs.
” Take it, ” she insisted. ” If  it’s not enough, tell me. I have more. ”
” Put it away, ” I said quietly, aware we were being watched. They all put their faith in money, these people.  Money was their rock. With money you could escape to freedom. With money you could bribe the soldiers, guards, inspectors, drivers, police. With money there was nothing you couldn’t do. Without it  you were at the mercy of  the evil people who wished you harm. That was the way their thinking went.

The final crossing from Iglan Potro to Mervidia was the tricky part – if the pirates didn’t sneak up on you then the weather would. Luckily it seemed the pirates had other fish to fry and the black storm clouds hovering over Muhii  finally made up their mind to deprive us of their company for a bit and vanished  South. Blown off the map. Our map anyway. But there is always something new, something unexpected to grapple with on that particular crossing either in the treacherous, turquoise waters of Iglan Potro  or the deceptive cerulean blues around  Mervidia. When the strong eastward current rushes through the Mervidian gap and encounters an opposing east wind, this has the effect of building up  monster waves.

The wave that got us wasn’t 100 ft. tall but it was tall enough, tall enough and steep enough and fast enough. Suddenly from nowhere we were confronted by this  roaring glistening wall of green water.
Nothing  I could do except shout warnings just before it hit us, shout out orders that were immediately drowned in the water’s roar.
Down the boat went at first into a deep deep trough that preceded the wave then everything went quiet and we were being lifted up then just as quickly thrown back down, such a long long way down….. 

The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was the startled face of the little boy close to mine. As soon as I opened my eyes he was gone. I sat up. He was standing close to his mother who was facing out to sea although being blind it wouldn’t matter in which direction she was facing. He was tugging at her hand and saying something to her but she didn’t move.There were others strung out along the beach but not too many, not more than half the number who had set out with us from Iglan Porto.

After a bit I got to my feet. No broken bones. No  cuts.  No bruises. Even to be still alive was a miracle.
I walked slowly along the beach to the woman and child. ” Are you all right?” I asked them.
The little boy looked up at me then pressed his face against his mother’s legs. Without shifting her sightless gaze from the sea, she gently held him against her and said dully, “It’s all right.  I have some money.”

My Lovely Amelia


 Amelia

I like nothing better than taking photographs of my lovely Amelia against some famous landmark: Amelia and The Eiffel Tower; Amelia and Nelson’s Column; Amelia and The Coliseum; Amelia and Edinburgh Castle; Amelia and The Angel of the North; Amelia and The Great Wall of China; Amelia and Ayers Rock; Amelia and The Great Pyramid.   I have them all.

Last week we went to India so I could photograph her with The Taj Mahal in the background.  The Taj Mahal looked  wonderfully grand, touched with pink by the setting sun and framed by majestic palm trees. It brought to mind that wonderful photograph of red-jacketed Princes Di  seated primly on the little wall  in front of the oblongs of water with this magnificent pristine building behind her not quite managing to put her in the shade. People have often remarked when I show them my photographs that my Amelia has a touch of Diana about her, the eyes mainly I think, the way she lowers her gaze at times.She is too beautiful for words.

My photograph of Amelia in front of  the Matterhorn, cheeks aglow with the cold. eyes sparkling, head slightly tilted, is another that people seem to like but my own favourite is of Amelia against the background of The Victoria Falls, not just because I have managed to catch little ribbons of  rainbows in the spray behind her with the water seeming to hang in the air like smoke but mainly because I seem to have finally captured that little smile of hers that I think is every bit as enigmatic and beautiful  as the Mona Lisa’s.

The one Amelia likes best is of her outside Buckingham Palace where the Queen and Prince Philip waited patiently till I had taken the photograph before passing between us.

225


100_2739 BRecently I went to Lanzarote to do some research on the painter/politician Cesar Manrique as well as a spot of sunbathing.
I stayed at the Beatriz, outside Costa Teguise, and was given room 225.
225!
How that number brings back memories!
My father was a GP. Perhaps because of his profession, he was inclined to spend as long as it took when meeting someone which meant that somewhere along his chain of  arranged meetings for the day, someone had to suffer.
As often as not that someone was me.
This may explain my obsession with punctuality – my own, not anyone else’s. I remember all too clearly the agony of waiting,  the nightmare dread, the sense of abandonment once the time for our meeting had passed without a sign of him.
Now, to avoid putting anyone else through that ordeal, I invariably arrive at least five minutes early for any appointment, no matter how important or unimportant. In fact I worry more about being on time than about the appointment itself, how I look, what I’m going to say, what sort of questions I might have to answer……
When I was ten I went with my father to Paris and on our last day there he arranged to meet me at 12 o’clock outside the main doors of Notre Dame. (All  this was way before the mobile phone came into being – one of the first presents I gave my daughter!)
Anyhow 12 o’clock came and twelve o’clock went.
No father.
Panic stations…..
At half past I started counting the number of people who passed me coming from the right,  having told myself that he would appear before I had even got as far as 30.
30 came and 30 went .
No father.
Should I leave the big doors and walk round  to see if he was waiting for me somewhere else? What if as soon as I wandered off, he arrived and went off looking for me? How would I get to the airport? Should I try explaining my problem to the gendarme who was standing with his back to me only a few yards away?
100.
As well as counting I now filled my mind with how I would explain my problem to the gendarme. Excusez-moi, monsieur. J’ai perdu mon pere. Aidez-moi, s’il vous plait. Je suis…Je ne sais pas….Je pense que….
If I stopped counting or stopped rehearsing my speech, I didn’t know how I would cope, what I   –
The gendarme wandered off, giving me a passing look.
200.
What I would do, in Paris, abandoned, no money, no –
225      and there he was, not even hurrying, smiling his usual smile. There’s a little cafe near the Metro station where I used to sit with your mother and watch the world go by, he said. Fancy going there?
I nodded.

That was my father. And Paris? I’ve never been back.

 

Aber 6

IONA


This is a photograph of a rocky beach on Iona. ‘Cathedral Rock’ was the name given by two Scottish painters -Cadell and Peploe – to the rock formation on the left. I had a problem finding this place – none of the local shopkeepers, people at the Abbey, beachcombers seemed to have heard of it or perhaps they had a different name for it.

 

This is how Peploe saw it and painted it.

” In Cathedral Rock, Iona,  Peploe combines his skill as a draughtsman with pure colour. Cathedral Rock rises on the left. He suggests the fall of strong light with whites and pale pinks, while the jutting forms are outlined with blue brushstrokes. The deep blue of the ocean can be seen in the distance and the changes in tone and gentle movement are suggested with orange shadows.”
(L.P.Hartley)

And this is how Cadell saw it and painted it.

” Cadell first visited the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, in 1912. Thereafter he returned frequently, often in the company of Peploe. Cadell felt the light was of the same quality as that in the south of France. Like Peploe, he found the tranquillity of the island a welcome break from his life in Edinburgh. His canvases of island scenes, painted in bold colours with block-like brushstrokes, were easy to sell when he returned to the city. ”
(L.P.Hartley)

A magic place, Iona.