Digging

This review of our recent jaunt at The Arcola makes me extremely happy. Not because it’s positive, but because it comes from someone informed and enquiring. I am interested in answering her questions myself and looking forward to starting rehearsing the next phase on Tonseisha this Sunday. 

Eriktahoe

Special thanks to Erik Patterson, playwright (pictured) and to Ianthe Brautigan. 

Here’s a poem I like:

 

Digging

 

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

 

Under my window a clean rasping sound

When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:

My father, digging. I look down

 

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds

Bends low, comes up twenty years away

Stooping in rhythm through potato drills

Where he was digging.

 

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft

Against the inside knee was levered firmly.

He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep

To scatter new potatoes that we picked

Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

 

By God, the old man could handle a spade,

Just like his old man.

 

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day

Than any other man on Toner’s bog.

Once I carried him milk in a bottle

Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up

To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods

Over his shoulder, digging down and down

For the good turf. Digging.

 

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap

Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Through living roots awaken in my head.

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

 

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.

– Seamus Heaney, from Death of a Naturalist (1966)

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