The Swoosh of Poetry

Walking in the evening the other day awakened all things magic. The son was on about some hilarious anecdote from school. I forget the exact nature of the story itself, for the torrents of the fast flowing river kept up with his words and they were equally joyful to witness and experience. But I seem to have neither held the river waters, nor the words – just the joy of the torrents washing over me feeling a little poetic. 


We’d done things like this before. Try out haikus on a walk. Or a bit of poetry hammered out when the words swoop in – not ready, not formed, but just swooshing out like a long held breath.  So, I lost myself in my own river of thoughts.

Our gentle stream / river was flowing full yet again 

Feeling gratitude for the rain

The pattering sounds of it against the far-off whistle of the train

Little eddies of currents swirled and twirled 

Making the geese and the wood ducks little dancers

The deer in the watery meadow opposite prancers


The little blackbirds skimming the waters joyously were swoopers 

The pelican pods commanders and troopers 

The great white heron’s feathers in the winds aflutter (Nah - that doesn’t go well - but just see how the white feathers trail away like a bridal veil I thought and chuckled)

“Don’t you think that sounds like a great idea?”, said the fellow obviously commandeering his imaginary troops towards his latest escapade and I nodded. 

He looked at me, and said sincerely, “So, what were you imaginating about when I told you my story?”

I looked sheepish and somewhat aghast at being caught like that. I mean I had been nodding along hadn’t I?

“How?!” I sputtered.

“Amma! I know! I imaginate all the time. I saw your dreamy look!” He chuckled good-naturedly. I looked at him – grateful to have his companionship. A fellow imaginator on magical  walks in nature makes life’s stresses melt away.

We chuckled at the feeble attempts of poetry and I told him about the way poetry was woven into the book written by that mastermind of unicorn stories, Peter S Beagle. In the book, In Calabria. In the book,  a farmer writes poems and reads poetry (not his own but famous poets) out to his goats and cows.

In Calabria

“Claudio bianchi did write poetry, at highly irregular intervals during his solitary daily life as a farmer in the toe of the Italian boot.”

One beautiful day, he notices that a unicorn has come to grace his farm and the poetry he feels comes tumbling out into the page. While I have not read much about the process of poetry, I imagine it is as varied as the words and thoughts themselves. For some, it is a flash of inspiration that is then poured out onto the pages. For others, it is a torturous play and replay with the words to capture the exact temperament.

“He never thought of his poems as being about anything: they came when they came, sometimes resembling what he saw and touched and thought all day-sometimes, to his surprise, becoming visions of what his fathers days and nights might have been like, or Romano’s, or even those of Cianellis aging bull. ….They came when they came and when they were finished, he knew.”

– Peter S Beagle – In Calabria

I told the son about my poem and he said, “Yeah – I think there are bits that need work. But I read in Time for Kids, that ChatGPT is doing writing for us too. So, you may not have to worry about it.”

Just like that, our conversation had meandered away from rivers and birds to technologies and their intended/unintended impacts and we navigated a different world in seconds. 

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