It’s Poetry Friday and this week I read a wonderful book called Animals Make Us Human, which shares stories from some of Australia’s finest writers, and scientists and conservationists. Each story shares that writer’s connection with animals, mostly of one specific species. The stories are lovely, the photos are sumptuous, but the message is also important – we need to know these stories and the threats that face our animal friends.
There was so much to love and to digest from the book, but one line stood out to me – from author Tom Kenneally, who shared the fact that echidnas, among other amazing things, are known to dream – they experience REM sleep. ‘What is it the echidna’s dreaming’ Kenneally asks. And, reading that line, I knew I needed to write about this.
When it came time to write, that line came back to me, and I knew I wanted to use it, or something close to it, and evoke a dream-like state. I settled on a poetic form new to me, the viator (which Irene Latham introduced me to last Poetry Friday). The first line becomes a refrain, used in the second line of the second stanza, the third line of the third, and the final line of the fourth. it’s a tricky form, but also a lot of fun to work with.
Here’s what I came up with:
When Echidna dreams
her dreams, curled in a spiky ball
nestled down deep
in her earthy burrow
what does she dream
when Echidna dreams?
Do streams of ants
march across her vision?
Or does she fly
or swim or float
when Echidna dreams,
imagining fantastic possibilities?
I can only guess
the wonderings, the worrying
in the dreams she dreams
when Echidna dreams.
(Poem copyright Sally Murphy, 2021)
Not familiar with the echidna? This video offers some wonderful footage – and insight.
Speaking of poetry, this week was a wonderful week for poetry in Australia – and especially for the verse novel. The Children’s Book Council announced the Notable Books for 2021 (this is a form of longlist for the Children’s Book of the Year Awards). And in the younger readers’ category there was not one, not two, but THREE verse novels. This is brilliant news, in a country where children’s poetry receives scant publishing attention. And, as it happens, I may have been also a bit chuffed that one of those poems was my own Worse Things. Happy days!
Not really poetry related (though there is poetry under the sea and this video is filled with potential poems) – here’s a glimpse at the very early morning snorkelling trip I managed before work this week. I am a wee bit addicted.
The Poetry Friday host today is Karen Edmiston. Pop over to her blog to see what other poetry goodness is on offer today.. It might also leave you wondering what you are as old as (and the answer is not ‘as old as the hills’).