20110111

Robert Gauldie


The Kingdom of Flies



Flying is always a little uncertain.
Height makes me nervous.
It’s cold as well, and sometimes windy.
How I hold my hands, oddly, seems to control my speed.
Leaning, I can turn. Ascent is always hard.
I need to think about it seriously.

I hate the electric wires: the telephone lines and power cables
Seem to draw me to them. It is always a strain,
A stress, to rise above them.
Mountains and great cliffs I find unnerving;
But great buildings, these I can negotiate with ease.
A hand-hold here and there: a slide along a foot.
That’s all I need; and so, I can move up, or down;
Light as a feather.
Up; down; slide; grip; slide; grip-grip.
Then, with a nervy push-away I float swiftly
Down, down, down across the great green flat-lands far below.


Mrs. Smith



Mrs. Smith is very old. Some people say that she is dead.
I see her every now and then, standing,
At the eastern end of our building; near her hedge.
The driveway of her house is always open. I sometimes walk
To the broad bronze doors beneath the reaching eaves.
If I go in, I always find her in that great-acre sitting-room;
Row on row, sofas, plush-back chairs, china elephants, hat-racks,
Tables, settees, poufs and hard backed settles sit, patiently,
Waiting for the great concourse who never come. Just me.
Mr. Jellian, the butler, brings us tea and dry, small, round cakes.
Sometimes a biscuit. Tiny cups. We don’t say much.
Her teeth are false, white-shiny; hair frizzy; hands jewelly,
Wrinkled ring-cluttered fingers; her eyes black-button brighty
In her gauzy, lined, old-ladies’ face.
I have been in her basement to where the steel door, locked,
Leads to the telescopes and comm-sat suite.
It’s never open when I am there.


Our House



If you drive along the street of houses you will see ours;
On the corner; just after the great stacked-stone terrace houses end.
Its gray. The roof is darker; high and steep. It’s hard to know
How many rooms. They seem to grow. Every corner conceals
A passage, a door, another suite of rooms. Upwards, too,
I do not know just how many floors there are, but they grow shabby;
Rickety stairs. It always bothers me that I should really
Fix them, paint them; take some pride in the place.
I am too busy. It will have to wait till then.
Until I have time. But, in the meanwhile, I like the idea
Of living in the street of houses where you will see ours.


The Call



She silent sits in contemplation, pebble-sorting on the garden tiles.
Patient, absorbed; while Grandma chats: mortgage costs,
Engagements, divorcees, and who will next grand-childed be.
She makes pretty patterns with her stones;
Idly, shapely, a pentangle occurs. In the centre, she blooms
A star of daisies; turns them one way, then another.
Dryads in the bushes grin; laughing, they see the summons
Mistakenly made. Rats, too, pause perturbed, briefly,
Recognise the error, slip away pursuant of their own sly trade.
But the birds, mice and all the lesser creatures sit silently, still,
Hidden in the trees, bright-eyed and watchful;
Fearing such power in one so young and small.


Bob Gauldie is a scientist who is reasonably well-known in the little pond of fish science (http://robertgauldie.com). Bob has also paid his dues in the tribal world of University Administration; always an environment that encourages one to be philosophical.
 
 
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