At Stave Hill

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Here five stanzas of five lines hold the notes

Heard from other-than-humans, hidden or seen

On a dusk and dawn around a May night pole,

In a wood cupping the drawn circle of Stave Hill,

A cone beacon radiated by a city’s humming lines.

 

Hush

 

Seeing in an ultrasonic zone where cars can’t go,

Soprano pipistrelles are the jazz drummers

On their own radio frequency, hitting on flies,

Night long spinning light poles under canopies

For thousands of insects to stave off their famine.

 

And hush

 

Behind the trees whales are calling live from Antigua.

We circle an old wheelbarrow, a bath of hot embers

And talk of wind over mountains and gulf streams and

Of the years to come, then Big Ben chimes midnight

Across five kilometres as the carrion crow flies.

 

Hush sleep

 

Awake in lifting dark our conductor motions us stop.

We all face forward, an arrested procession on the path,

Peeling songs apart from names of Robin, Wren, Dunnock.

Magpies in wild flow and Blackbirds utter geometries,

Weaving cats cradles of call lines between the trunks.

 

Hush now

 

From this hill the meridian can be detected with maps.

Crossing it no Thames water is seen, only its signs of division.

Veins on the back of my hand are blue burns, more visible

In this cold, or is it my age when lines come to surface?

As time is a river that folds and streams with the calling.

 

Hush still

 

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Written while at SoundCamp where Grant Smith and others transmitted Reveil, a 24 hour broadcast of ‘other than human’ sounds from sites around the globe, starting and ending from the Greenwich meridian. It celebrated the International Day of the Dawn Chorus. We camped near Greenwich at Stave Hill Ecological Park, a new wood reclaimed from watery and industrial Dockland, and went on bat and bird walks. Here are more photos on Flickr. I liked the idea of a stave as structure for music, as well as a hill functioning as a kind of radio broadcasting the world’s music to the world.

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