CHRISTINA Dunhill’s “After they took the sky away”, from her new collection Blackbirds (HappenStance, £4), is based on a fantastical, yet at heart, simple premise: what if the sky disappeared?
It’s a flexible metaphor, one that could point towards ecological disaster, but perhaps also society before the economic crisis, or indeed anything that we take for granted. Who are “they” who stole or perhaps lost the sky? The poem’s final lines suggest blame doesn’t lie beyond the stolen clouds but is earthbound and lies close to home.
For a while we still looked for variety in landscape
but its colours were flattened. River and hillside,
cliff and scrub, fell to a palette of fawn and ochre.
Mountains hit a kind of lid, dull grey white.
Planes slid through invisibly; they left no trail.
The shapes of hills no longer calmed us.
No fillets of clouds drifted quietly behind them.
No picture book clouds blew lazily over them.
We had stripped the earth of all her charm,
of her magnificence, her easy way with awe.
We couldn’t lie back to watch sky changing
with its slow dissolves, its slow accumulations,
its tricks of hide and seek and suggestion.
Suddenly we loomed so tall, we found
we couldn’t look each other in the eye.
You can borrow Blackbirds by Christina Dunhill from the Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Edinburgh EH8 8DT. Tel: 0131-557 2876, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or see www.spl.org.uk for details.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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