Lough Ree by Colin Carberry
by Steven McCabe
A trout flares at dusk,
in the heron’s ears.
Colin Carberry is an Irish-Canadian poet and translator and the director of the Linares International Literary Festival (Mexico).
I am struck, reading this haiku, by the heron hearing silver scales. I imagine sunset splashing chaotically on thin, reflective surfaces and the heron’s acute sensors turning and tuning. I remember summers (it seems long ago) driving cross-country, through the night, listening to the radio. Car radios were manually operated. With your free hand you would find the spot where there was no static, bringing in the station clearly. Adjusting the dial frequently to receive the perfect reception. Ambient static would slowly creep back in and you would fine tune again listening carefully. Though, unlike the heron, your aim was enjoyment not survival. Surely our ancestors knew the life and sounds of water, within and without, like a heron. The poet, crafting this poem, brings us to the edge of our deepest memories.
I was reading about how songbirds are declining in cites because the cities are too noisy, and how the oceans are too noisy for the ocean life. it is getting more difficult to listen.
Steven, that second image is perfection. It’s like a disjointed figure/fish (to me) and seems to be questioning the viewer. I’ve probably taken this somewhere unintended!
It’s a beautiful series. I wonder if these are glimpses of what the heron hears.
Hi Karen….I’ll respond to your thoughts backwards….
I was wondering myself, working intuitively, if these were impressions seen through silvery icy water or the reflections themselves, but I love your suggestion; what the heron is hearing: inner ear connects images to a greater world, an instinctive consideration.
Creating a hybrid creature of poem/image right there starts the unintended ball rolling; your further thoughts expand the discussion further afield or perhaps to the heart of the matter!
Thinking about your idea of a disjointed fish/figure questioning the viewer, very interesting – I didn’t think before reading your note that perhaps the images themselves were questioning or if I was being questioned by the poem. but now I wonder. Does the poem makes me aware of questions I already have. Or if the image awakens questions a viewer might be pondering or forumulating.
And about the noise of the city and the noise of the ocean: Yes, (ironically with sadness) ‘footnotes from an advanced civilization.’
Now I am curious about Lough Ree where I assume Colin wrote the poem:
Lough Ree, which is about 25 km long and 7 km wide, lies entirely on Carboniferous Limestone… the existence and orientation of the deep areas of the lake are consistent with an origin by ice erosion…
I am intrigued by these images, Steven. They have a different character than the others (that I am so far familiar with). I am also really fascinated by the idea of seeing glimpses of what the heron hears that draw and shoot referenced. Different frequencies of the same line?
Lough Ree -I have also been contemplating the mysteries of limestone with a good friend of mine. We live over the sea bed of an ancient ocean- and the limestone here is a big part of our heritage in a way- full of stories, not to mention millions of tiny fossils. Heavy poem, this one.
Hi Jack, Thanks for dropping by. Yes these images have a different feel. A hidden quality with light and movement perhaps replacing detail. While thinking of the heron hearing frequencies, I recall somebody telling me that ancient pottery, going around a wheel, acted as a receptor to sound. It wasn’t just the clay. It was the spinning round motion. He also told me that under certain conditions the sounds could be ‘replayed’ on an adapted record player. Sounds pretty wild to me. Not the clay absorbing sound. But the replaying part. Well this is quite a segue from the heron and the images and the poem. Your mention of limestone cross-references in my brain to the clay. To sounds, and vibrations, and history. The limestone must be a powerful active force in your local geography. The work you do seems to be in response to ancient realities. Perhaps the limestone is interacting with your subconscious? Or maybe I should say ‘creativity.’
Maybe Colin will add something about the poem in terms of habitat or location inspiring his writing.
As a girl I was very intrigued by what happened behind these frosted glass bathroom panes. For a moment in time your images/impressions took me back Steven…forever on the Path of unveiling!
Hi Catharina….I think heron were snatching trout behind those window panes!
I experienced a childhood memory also while working on this. My (late) brother decided, one winter day, to visit his friend on the other side of town. The town divided by a river. Instead of walking to the bridge, he would save time walking across the river. A thin layer of ice covering flowing water. Not like the lakes of still water with ice so thick you could drive a car. Halfway across the ice began to buckle, with cracking he could hear. He lifted his feet as gently as he could, and carried on very slowly.
When doing poetry workshops in schools I would tell this story during the drawing part of the activity as a way to encourage new designs (and later adjectives, nouns…): the ice cracked like ‘zigzags of lightning….’ with ‘oval air bubbles’ pressing against the transparent surface… The idea being to make the story as visceral and visual as possible.
I would tell the students about the types of fish, and their sizes, in the dark waters beneath my brothers boots crunching on the snow. I’m trying to remember if I mentioned the fish listening or seeing anything.
I love the physical act in this poem described both metaphorically and descriptively. I love your phrase ‘forever on the path of unveiling.’ The poet has unveiled so much for us in these short lines.
stunning series Steven…
Thank you John. Glad you like the work and glad to hear from you again. I’ve been away from ‘blogville’ for most of this week so I’ll have to check your page to see if you’ve added some paintings, poetry or cultural developments.
Makes me think of Hester, the girl who collects sounds in my stories and recurrent themes of connection through distant means. And then there is this brightness and softness that seems so intimate in the images, but through sound of course you’d get a sort of imagined or translated reflection. Interesting..
Hi Sarah, Well, It is a small world of sound indeed. Here we are discussing what a heron might be hearing (in images or light or frequencies) and you have a character in a story (your drawings) collecting sound and ‘recurrent themes of connection through distant means.’ Sounds very intriguing. I’ll have to look into Hester’s story lines. You might find Jack’s drawings of ‘Walking Man’ interesting. ‘Walking Man’ seems to be in touch with ‘forces’ communicating to him. I wonder what Colin heard or if he perhaps ‘felt’ the sounds we are imagining. Hopefully he’ll add something to our discussion. Thank you for visiting!
A lovely visual for the words,
–“scales -resonate “: in a musical scale audible to just these 2 creatures
–flares – orange flash as a flare signal -communicating e heron/ or the flare of flashing his tail to clear his dead scales like the salmon.
–frosting -seeing fish through frozen water./looking through semiopaque veil,1/2 hidden.
Thank you Margaret for this intriguing interpretation.