A poem by David Andrew

 
All Day, the Rain

“When is a culture as a whole to be thought of as a system
of modifications of our lives as talkers? And would this
imply that there is something undefined in human life,
pre-cultural as it were?”
Cavell

In the exquisite factory of the cell
life lives on. A language at one with
the long chemical that, some billion years
before culture, stumbled upon a story
it could retell with almost no error,
over and over again.

What was this story, ‘pre-cultural’ as it were?
The business of staying in business.
Thus, the snail, beautiful in the mowed grass,
does not know it’s shell tells an exquisite story.
A smallest whorl, its earliest it, carried about
on it’s back like the rings in a tree,
an autobiograhy.

In the end was the word: telling how, making
our supposes true. All day, the rain falls
down from the great sky, the light hammering
down on this conservatory roof, knocking
on the windows. This snail is in his house,
shut up tight with his foot on the wall
’til his time comes – and not a word about him.

Consider the branches of the birch
how they bend. Consider the peonies –
their flowers dressed as if for a ball, as if
to attend on a Queen, drenched and humble.
A very long time before we come to a man
who mulling over ‘forms of life’, asks large
questions: what is going on?

In the end was the Word. Seeing the snail
this morning, it’s intricate shell making
good speed across mown grass, I wanted to
tell him or her, “Look, what a good job we’ve done
with what’s pre-cultural about human life,
eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.”
 
(published in The SHOp #42, 2013)
 
 
David Andrew, born in Manchester (UK) in 1939, went to school in Lancaster and Macclesfield – and graduated, in philosophy, in 2001. Poems appeared occasionally in the ’60s, more recently he’s been published in: Magma, PN Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Rialto, The SHop, South & South Bank Poetry.  A collection, Through the Looking Glass, was published by Brimstone Press in 2010. David is now in charge of developing the Write Out Loud Poetry Directory.

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