Saying Goodbye to the Wild Geese

I’m lucky to live within a five minute cycle to the sea. Living in Portsmouth, it doesn’t matter where you are, you are always within a 5 to ten minute bike ride from salt water. It’s one of the benefits of living on Portsea Island, along with the lack of hills.

With the sea comes wildlife that you wouldn’t otherwise expect from the most densely populated city in the UK. Families of seals. The occasional porpoise. A wide range of seabirds, including some that are very rare elsewhere.

If you are out on the South Hampshire coast between October and March you are likely to encounter flocks of Brent Geese. They’ve gone now, back to their summer grounds in the tundra of northern Siberia. With such a long migration, this small (Britain’s smallest) and rather unassuming goose is perhaps the most remarkable we have in the UK.

Their feeding grounds here are under significant pressure – here in Portsmouth from the ridiculous decision to allow a company to lay an energy pipeline right through an important wildlife area, to other plans to build housing on wasteland to the west of the island.

I’ve been in touch with my local councillor on the latter matter – his response was actually very good – full of detail as to the realities of the situation faced by Portsmouth City Council. The financial penalties that local governments get for non fulfilment of central government set housing targets are severe. So what does a cash-strapped council do in such circumstances? What really can they do?

Meanwhile, our Prime Minister pontificates on Earth Day. I couldn’t be bothered to watch his speech. This is the man who wanted to destroy green space and mature trees for a vanity-project garden bridge. Whilst this was just a local planning issue it shows where his priorities lie. There are plenty of other examples of his hypocrisy and contempt for the environment. The man is an utter disgrace.

But we carry on. We carry on hoping, that despite the negligence, corruption and greed around the world, that things will change, that there still is time.

I think there is, just.

I’ll finish this post with a poem that first appeared on the One Hand Clapping website last October. Take care everyone, and good luck.

Reclaiming

This runt-scrap of land.
This pith of earth.
Half-soil,
half-salt,
all howling sky.
For now this silt’s still ours.

A concrete sea wall;
impervious,
half-toil,
half-hope.
Already dissolved
in the future’s slewing surge.

Today the light is fragile blue,
foreground a smear of sea.
Brent geese flying in
from what remains of the Arctic.
Where do we go from here?

A World Still Ours

From the Guardian this morning…

Australia‚Äôs former finance minister Mathias Cormann has won a hard-fought election to become the new chief of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), despite grave concerns voiced by environmental groups over his record on climate change.

Outside the wind is howling. The washing line would sing if it were taut enough to vibrate a note. This is just weather, of course, not climate. But is anyone listening anyway?

Should people with records like Cormann have any say in the direction of powerful organisations like the OECD? What does this say about the people who we entrust with our children’s futures? Meanwhile, here in the UK, HS2 will continue to be built as Johnson sets plans in motion towards building a tunnel or bridge to Northern Ireland. A coal mine in Cumbria remains under consideration. They carry on. A bit of greenwash lip service to placate the masses, but nothing really changes in the minds and actions of those who purport to lead us.

Yet there are encouraging signs. I work (part-time) managing social media accounts for three different recruitment brands. One of them is an engineering recruitment company, so I am constantly looking for articles and news pieces that I can add to the company feed. The huge range of new initiatives and new products being developed specifically aimed at tackling climate change and our inefficient use of resources is incredibly encouraging. I just hope we have enough time.

In the meantime, we all carry on as best we can. The sun is shining. Daffodils are nodding in the wind. Today my eldest daughter is moving out of the family home. We will miss her of course, but it is time. In other news, Pompey are playing in the Checkatrade Final at a fan-less final at Wembley – I wrote about the cancellation of the game back in April last year;

If nothing else it’s a reminder of something we lost last spring. Zoom can only do so much. I quite enjoy an online poetry event, (I’ve been to three in the last week), and it’s lovely to see familiar faces again, but it isn’t the same. I so miss meeting people in person, whether a catch up for a coffee, a writers event in a local cafe, or being with 60,000 other Pompey fans shouting and singing together in a sea of blue.

Bur if happiness today feels so fleeting or tissue-paper thin, whether through Covid, Brexit, climate worries, or something else, we still have each other, we still have our choices, there is still much that can be done. The ending is as yet unwritten.

I’ll finish this post with the last poem from Landings , my first collection (still available from Dempsey & Windle Publishing) – the photo accompanying this blog post became the cover illustration.

At Full TIme

I hear the meaning, not the words,
the drifting lilt of tone,
a singing crowd over late night traffic.

On the other side of glass as seasons turn,
waiting for the sky to fall,
a single drop of rain and then another.

The spatter of footsteps on pavements;
water sanctifies the profane,
softens the smack of heel and toe.

Windows streaked by meteor showers.
A delta of streams will build;
to catch these words and float their meaning.

From here dark clouds cast spray-dust,
as drifting bands of stars;
the world still ours if we reach for it.

Lightning fuses earth in the distance,
this city asleep and wide awake,
voices rising over background static.