Comb Beck


stolen moments…
this pocket watch clasped
to a silver chain
and tucked away
for me to discover

I walk the trail to the lower slopes of Whinlatter Forest, where the beck tumbles through what is often called the Seldom Seen Ravine on its journey to the lake. Here and there, moss and fern pass through the fine toothcomb of pine tree light. Skiddaw slate finds its voice in late spring rains and I cherish the notion that these fairy falls did not exist until I found them. Yet I know that this is country beloved by Wordsworth and the distant salver of Bassenthwaite is reputed to be the setting for Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’. Waterfall begets stream. Lake, glen and gill bask forever in the shadows of mountains.
how gentle the touch
of air and water…
the stonemason
stooped in morning light
keeping the time of stars

Notes from the Gean, volume 3, issue 3, December 2011


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. skyraftwanderer
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 22:36:46

    I really like the poems, but particularly I love the prose.

    Here and there, moss and fern pass through the fine toothcomb of pine tree light./Waterfall begets stream/Lake, glen and gill bask forever in the shadows of mountains – Those lines are beautiful.

    Great work with this.


    • Claire
      Dec 29, 2011 @ 20:11:01

      I am very happy that you liked this piece, my friend, and am touched by your comments. Thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts. Happy New Year to you!



  2. kirigirisuBrian
    Dec 29, 2011 @ 15:29:13

    What a lyrical meditation, Claire. The mysteries of time wait patiently for us– the watch in a drawer, its chain linking us to a more immediate past, the ancient waterfall and rill, the planet sculpting itself. The mysteries need us just as we need them. They need you, a poet, to discover and sing them.

    For me your country has always been a place of magic. So much so that I hesitate to travel there for fear it would rend my dream. It’s the land itself that draws me. I’m sure London is a fascinating city but I want to see the Lake District, the Cotswolds, the cliffs, forests and villages. I know in my heart there are white stags and blue deer in its woods…

    This tanka prose does exactly what the best of such works should. While both are lyrical, no violence is done to either poetry or prose by confusing or allowing them to bleed into each other. They observe the inevitability and necessity in relation to each other that Charles Tarlton in his recent essay regards as essential to successful tanka prose.

    For me the most elemental attribute of a successful work of art lies in its ability to draw the reader/observer back to itself for another read, another look. This is a work I will return to. One I can live in and come away from refreshed (with no harm done to my English fantasy, grin).


    • Claire
      Dec 29, 2011 @ 20:09:04

      Your appreciation of this piece is so validating, especially as the experience was so meaningful for me –and yes, magical. That I might have gone some way to convey that to you, and to others, is very heartening. For me, yes, The Lakes, The North Yorkshire Moors, The Dales, The Peak District, are indeed places akin to the landscapes of dreams. I am always very much aware that I walk in the shadows of mountains, both literally and in literary terms. Since my husband introduced me to the lakes and the Borrowdale valley, I’ve felt little desire to venture outside this beautiful land. Much as I know there is a world of beauty and wonder beyond these shores, I do feel there is something quite mesmerising and mystical about this sceptered isle.

      I am delighted that you feel this work lives up to Charles Tarlton’s observations re. the successful marriage of tanka and prose. Charles is an excellent writer and essayist. I’m also delighted, Brian, that you feel you will return to this piece from time to time. I also hope that one day you will set foot in your dreams and find they are all that you imagined them to be…and, perhaps, a little more besides.


  3. Margaret Dornaus
    Dec 31, 2011 @ 17:46:09

    Beautiful, my friend . . . both the tanka and the prose. Your lyrical voice shining through the mirrored waters. I particularly love the closing tanka. Thank you for this. Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, productive New Year, filled with music and poetry.



    • Claire
      Jan 04, 2012 @ 20:10:44

      Margaret, thank you so much and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones also. I’m glad this piece spoke to you. Still, I don’t feel I could do justice to these magical places…but that’s not going to stop me from trying! [ps. I’m looking forward to seeing some more tanka prose flowing from the Dornaus pen 😉 ]


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