A Burden of Words

In animals, consciousness, nature, walking, writing by Kate Innes

Exit from Noah’s Ark- The Bedford Hours
British Library Add MS 18850 f16v

Writing, for me, is very like walking.  I set out to go somewhere new, but soon I return to old paths, favourite views, familiar trees, wanting to see them again from a new direction or in different weather.  Over time, these places become my inner library, where I go to work out what things mean.

In my prose and poetry I also have stubborn preoccupations which might be summed up as ‘Beasts and Burdens’.  

‘Beast’ – the animal in us and the world

‘Burden’ –  consciousness, religious ideology, motherhood, the inevitability of death etc. 

And so, a beast poem to begin:

Red Stag
I crawl into the beamed hall of his chest,
cover myself in skin and fur and creep
to sleep in the stretch of the skull.
While shoulders hunch and narrow
into legs and cloven points,
blood gathers from watery pools,
to its previous course.  Muscle
binds to bone and then – eyes open.
My new body rises from its resting place.
I shake my heavy head of winter branches
and test the air with bared teeth.
Clouds of hot breath froth my stiffened lips.
The bare patch in my haunch grows hair,
frosted stiff brown-grey.
Hooves paw and test the rocky slope.
Clearing the stings, I fly and bracken blurs.
I am Herne the Hunter and his quarry.
I know the smell only and the speed.
The past is a dream and before me lies
the incline of earth, the scented canopy,
flowing into field and shielding hedge.
I know the sound, but no longer what it means.
The hardness of road and its arrows of light
cross my scent trail, and I am hit.
Twenty paces of shattered bone till
I lie down here, a flood of blood in my belly.
Torn haunch, from which a buzzard rises.
Kate Innes

Next time I blog, there will be visual aids!