[Poetry] — Eric Nicholson

Ordnance Survey Map

I didn’t recognise him when I visited
the hospital; a folded body in a chair.
I’ve only inherited a few mementos:
a Brownie camera, poetry and an OS Map

which unfolds to cover my carpet
like a time-lapse film
of a bud bursting into leaf. 
The folds have slits which I’ve taped

with brown gummed paper strips
on the back to make the map serviceable.
When folded, a boat rests at the side
of a blue lake; a design and colour scheme

reminiscent of those British Rail Posters.
He’d look out of his sheltered accommodation
naming “Crinkle Crags” and “Langdale Pikes,”
talk of Wordsworth’s travels here and abroad

and of the poet’s hatred of the railways
and of his hero’s twenty mile walk 
to post a letter or to meet the mail coach 
on a misty height.

I unfold the map on the floor and mark
where he’s located himself beside a byroad,
the red main roads branching, and cut off
at the edges.

Connections

There is a rhythm everywhere I look.
Today the waning crescent moon is high
reflecting light so faint it’s hard to see.
In ancient times they marked out her phases
and left the poets to sing their praises.

I used to take my daughter to the coast –
the North Sea isn’t very far away –
to St Mary’s Island, a child’s treasure chest
of crabs in rock pools by a long causeway
that the sea submerges twice a day.

I drove to that same causeway yesterday
and found it gone with children standing by
and mums and dads with pushchairs, statue-like:
their attitudes triggered by deep love
and the unassuming moon far above.

A Shoreland Pantoum

For Rachel

We watch Zola run across the beach
as fast as any greyhound on the track.
You tell me the pandemic’s slowing down;
everything shifts within and without.

As fast as any greyhound on the track
the wind moans through a rusty oil drum.
Everything shifts within and without,
a white feather sea-saws above marram grass.

The wind moans through a rusty oil drum.
Look! A seal’s surfaced to say hello,
a white feather sea-saws above marram grass.
Zola’s fetching a sea-bleached whelk.

Look! A seal’s surfaced to say hello.
You tell me the pandemic’s slowing down.
Zola’s fetching a sea-bleached whelk,
we watch her run across the beach.

*

Eric Nicholson is retired and lives in Gateshead, UK. He has won two recent poetry competitions and participated in a Renku reading in April 2022. He is also a visual artist and one day may combine the two arts.