Spaceship Earth

The chair in the forest accommodates
a cushion of moss — better than
the bedspring, which collects dead leaves
& the rare blackberry sprout.
The canes never get too far
in their explorations of the dappled light
before a deer discovers them & has them
for breakfast, spines & all, threading
her hooves through the rusty coils
& the jumble of squarish stones
where walls once rested.
High overhead, a scarlet tanager
grooms under his wingpits
during each pause in his recital.
If only the lice that live humdrum lives
in the forest of his feathers
could see him as we do! An idea
of perfection, a glimmering jewel
alone in the overgrown void.

***

In an old edition of the Whole Earth Catalog, someone once responded to the Spaceship Earth metaphor as like being out in the New Mexico night, looking at the stars, and gasping “it’s just like the planetarium!”
Chris Clarke

7 Comments


  1. I love this. Setting it in a contemporary ruin is just inspired.

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  2. I love the rusty coils and jumbles of squarish stones. The Meadowlands of New Jersey come to mind. I love this. Ruined worlds move and fascinate me.

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  3. Thanks, Leslee and Laura. This was one of those that started with a single image — a chair in the woods — and built from there as I tried to figure out what it might mean. A kind of poeming-by-self-divination.

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  4. My late friend Catriona loved our cottage by the sea in West Wales. She used to go there for spells to recover from chemotherapy. There’s a garden chair at the highest point of the property, nestled into the divided trunk of a tree and set to take in the best view over the beach to the sea. This is where I’d find her in the evenings, sneaking an illicit cigarette while watching the bats flitting. After her death the vegetation crept up on the chair, and the last time I looked it had almost vanished, held askew in a tight embrace of guelder rose and fern.

    I loved your poem Dave. It set me to thinking about Catriona’s chair. We don’t look after that garden as well as we did when she was there to scold us. But like Laura, I have a melancholic liking for the ruined, and your poem captures encroachment beautifully. There’s great delicacy in;

    ‘before a deer discovers them & has them
    for breakfast, spines & all, threading
    her hooves through the rusty coils
    & the jumble of squarish stones
    where walls once rested.’

    ‘threading her hooves’, Perfect. Well done.

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    1. Thanks, Clive. Delicacy is something I should strive for more often, I think — the dramatic and declarative is always such a temptation, I’m afaid it must become monotonous in my work.

      Thanks for sharing that bittersweet recollection of your friend. I do love the idea of chairs going back to nature — something about the the way they already symbolize hospitality and openness makes their accommodation to the ways of the world more touching, I think.

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