The Walking Show

Crosseyed at dawn; fences silhouetted, cows moo!

I avoid cow pats but the smell is thick in the air.

Filling my boots I run towards the group and the waiting mini-bus queue.

Warthogs are not from these parts or in my mind as we traverse

cattle grids and leave the wild hills behind.

What did that air imbue in mind body and sinew than thirty years after

the event I can recall it’s essence anew?

Was it the food or the friends or the country air or the mud or cows chewing

on the cud and the stories and campfires and treks through fields where Bulls roamed free?

Or was it the feeling of just being me? Alone in a crowd. Not imprisoned just allowed to be?

To peek here and there over the walls to look at the flowers and weeds, to breathe in something pretty?

It wasn’t about girls or having the best, of that I can put your mind to rest. Nothing of that kind existed yet. But the little bridge over the mountain river would bring my heart up into my mouth as we floated along like a procession of waterproof wearing ducks our footsteps resounding in my ears: a hollow sound but one I followed wishing I made the same sound but I never did I always thought my footsteps inferior to those gone before.

I accepted this on the basis that I had the wrong boots or the wrong walk and that I should watch my Dad the next time I saw him as I knew he had the right sound, the right walk an all and that it would as he promised of the future ‘would come to me’. So I didn’t worry at all.

That the future did come to me was prescient of he although he forgot to mention that the party might be gatecrashed. Accordingly, I left him out of my will and vowed that I would wring his wallet dry of beer money until we were even!

Still, the country has the same effect on me although these days I am usually too stressed to notice how my feet make the right sounds that I skilfully avoid cowpats and easily traverse stiles. But I am still scared of bulls. Don’t tell anybody!

Now I want to do poetry. And something has just occurred to me: A poet is not just a poet by name only but is someone who does poetry. Really? I shall have to wait and see if that definition helps me understand what it is to be a poet but the question is vexing me especially when I tell people that I have given up my studies to ‘commit’ to poetry. I feel so hollow when I say those words and my heart goes up into my mouth and I feel that my poetry is not as good as those who went before me or those coming up after me. Perhaps this is a game I don’t yet know the rules of and don’t understand or is it God’s cruel joke played on people across the land? And we are toy soldiers in his hand?

Well, I have written hundreds of little poems so far and can call them my own although I posted them online I only wrote them for me and there perhaps is one source of anxiety. As a poet, you write for people to read or it’s performed and its kind of a show is one version of how it goes.

Performance? Show? Ooooeeer! Saying that I have listened to Ted Hughes (the old Poet Laureate) and he doesn’t sound like he put on a performance just makes me sound ignorant (i think) so I will say that perhaps it is a skill that can be learned like any other skill in life.

There we go!

Crisis over. Phew!

So on with the show (!)

Ta, ta folks!

Published by Andrew Mark Watkins

Self-taught artist and writer

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