Tadpoles

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Tadpoles

Postby Saturn » Sat May 15, 2010 1:10 am

Tadpoles

In summer [always idyllic,
In memory if not fact] we
Used to go hunting amid
The dank, fly-thickened
Stream. Stream I call it,
But a trickle, shallow as
Your foot in a puddle,
Stretched haphazard
Through the patchy
Wildernesses left that
The suburbs hadn't paid
Any attention to. Gone
Now, swallowed up by
Development, the trees
Made way for streetlights,
And our overgrown boyhood
Haunts rendered smooth
In tarmac and concrete
Sprouting bricked identikit
Abodes for the cheerless.

Berthed to the waterside
The spume we found
Unattended, drifting its
Way over the black rocks,
Close enough to reach
Over, jam jar in hand:
Carefully cleaned out
Ready to receive the
Little waterborn brood.
Scooped into the glass
Incubator, murky cell,
They didn't look much,
A hazy conglomeration
Of little gray swimmers.

I can't say I ever watched
The tadpoles grow to size;
The hunting, the capture
Was all our pleasure. Boys
Are mini hunter-gatherers,
Responsive to the chase,
With no thought of futurity.
Like blackberry picking too,
We harvested a great crop
But the reaping was all,
Was an end in itself enough
To satisfy our vast curiosity.
So we pulled off branches,
And lopped the flower-heads,
Careless of our carelessness
And waited to grow up tall
So we could climb the higher
Trees, and be the superheroes,
The reckless gods we adored.
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Re: Tadpoles

Postby steffen » Mon May 17, 2010 3:42 am

I enjoyed your wonderful poem TADPOLES. I was a hunter of tadpoles too and watched some of them evolve miraculously into frogs with the gradual disappearance of the tail and then one leg at a time. I lived in Kentucky. Our back garden bordered a deep forest, one that is still untouched to this day. At the age of five, I developed a fascination for the seemingly infinite possibilities of such a place and eventually, but little by little, ventured deeper and deeper into that maze of wonders. One early spring morning with patches of snow still on the ground I reached a creek, and in a sort of primitive ritual began to throw heaps of snow into the shallow water in the hope of somehow forcing winter to give way to spring. Realizing the immensity of such a task I sat down on a rock at the edge of the stream and watched the snow slowly turn to slush. I looked up into a nearby tree. There, poised on a low-hanging limb was a wildcat (later I learned that it was called a Bobcat --Lynx Rufus--) staring peacefully down at me, very quiet, fascinated, totally focussed on me.. I looked into those large, almond-shaped, golden eyes without any other sensation except that of total fascination. No fear. I don't know how else to describe what I experienced except to call it ectasy. I think I must have felt that I was living a privileged moment. Neither of us flinched. How long did the event last? No idea.I must have left the scene in a daze of euphoria or undergone some sort of post-amnesia. I didn't mention this to my parents or brothers. I did ask my older brother, Gordon, not to shoot any "big cats" in the woods. He was an expert woodsman and hunter but he said he had never come across a Bobcat in those woods
Last year, here in the Spanish Pyrenees where I now live, I had a similar experience with a "gato montés" a somewhat long-haired European wild cat twice the size of a domestic cat. It crossed my path, kept moving, then stopped and looked back at me straight in the eye very briefly. It was another stellar moment. But no longer being a child of five, but an elderly 70-year-old man, I was only left with a sense of grateful reassurance.

But that first encounter with the mystery of wildness has affected the course of my life. When I first read those opening lines of a 17th c. poem by by the mystical poet Henry Vaughan, "I saw eternity the other night" -- I thought of my bobcat, and the incredible blessing of that brief moment of infant wonder and indescribable happiness. I revisit Kentucky every few years and once again last year, at the very spot which I describe here, I sat there by the creek under that still-standing, now ancient tree. Nothing seems to have changed. For me it is sacred ground, truly a holy place.
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Re: Tadpoles

Postby Saturn » Mon May 17, 2010 4:18 pm

Wonderful story Steffen, thank you for sharing it. Although I'm a town boy through and through and have never lived in the country, I am drawn to wilderness, even isolated patches of green I find have an infinite fascination for me, nature is more beautiful and mysterious than anything mankind has made, or art fashioned from it.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Tadpoles

Postby moonflower » Mon May 17, 2010 10:17 pm

It is the imperfection of nature that gives it grace. Things made by man require repair and maintenance, while nature takes care of herself!
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Re: Tadpoles

Postby Saturn » Mon May 17, 2010 10:20 pm

Exactly!
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Tadpoles

Postby gstormcrow » Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:20 pm

Nostalgic, stream of consciousness writing wonderfully done. Bravo!
I'm in love with Osama's Aunt Sally
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