The Poetry School recently shared my poem ‘Save The Date’ as an Instagram slide, in their countdown to this year’s National Poetry Day.
Seeing the slide has got me thinking about illustration and poetry. When the staff at the Poetry School described their project, I assumed they’d choose a design to reflect the marriage-poem or wedding-poem theme. Clichés like the couple emerging from church in a puff of confetti, or stiff wedding cake figurines. Tasteful black and white perhaps? But no, on reflection, the pageantry of the wedding service is not what this poem is about. It wouldn’t have worked.
I would never have guessed they’d home in on the one-word image ‘deckchairs’. It was good to be reminded that the bits we think are important in a poem when we write it, are not always what a reader will be struck by. To me, the dominant colour in this poem was white, as the white escaped balloon. If there were any additional colours they may have been the purple-black of a ripe blackberry or Tesco’s blue. But now, suddenly it’s sunny. It’s high summer again. The blackberries are just starting. Everything is gloriously yellow.
Save The Date
Don’t let it slip, a white escaped balloon
its thrashing tail tickling the breeze
as it sets off to fertilise the sun.
There’s time enough for blackberrying
or visiting a fast eroding aunt,
for deckchairs, appendectomies,
domestic labours, catching other people’s flu,
for meeting nephews, nieces, garden centres
Tescos, spaying cats and repainting the hall.
Please spend your day on us, for we intend
to split ourselves apart, to separate
each vein and string of sinew, every hair
from which we’ll plait a single stronger rope.