Friday, June 10, 2011

Juneathon 2011 Day 10: Boundaries and distance

2011 Streak 161/365: Run 7.55 miles, Time 1hr 11min 32sec, Weather - hints of rain

The following is a wonderful poem. It is very specific in place and so allows a precise imagining of a person, a pose, a view, yet at the same time its subject is large and more abstract:  vastness and interconnectedness in tension with the need for the manageable, the attainable.
Of course it has nothing to do with running. How could it? it is written by an elderly man taking a moment to contemplate, flipping his cigarette into the water, looking at a boat and the sky. It has nothing to do with running.
And yet … because it deals with universal themes, it does.  
When I run by the canal my situation is the reverse I have the extreme nearness of the task and the straightjacket of my capabilities, my world is constrained. Yet I look up and see a stretch of waterway 200 hundred years old. I see a connection with the industry, which built the country, a link to towns and cities which used to be quite isolated. On my own patch I can see the evidence of old industry turned into housing and retail park. And that is only the human history. Beside all that are the fields the landscape and the animals. The vastness opens out at odd moments and then closed down as the more immediate concerns of feeling breathless, weariness or thirst take over.
On the pier at Kinlochbrevie
The stars go out one by one
as though a bluetit the size of the world
were pecking them like peanuts out of the sky's
string bag
A ludicrous image I know.
Take away the grey light.
I want the bronze shield of summer
or winter's scalding sheet
My mind is struggling with itself.
That fishing boat is a secret
approaching me. It's a secret
coming out of another one.
I want to know the first one of all.
Everything's int he distance,
as I am. I wish I could flip that distance
like a cigarette into the water.
I want the extreme of nearness
I want boundaries on my mind
I want to feel the world like a straightjacket
Norman MacCaig

No comments: