Mapping memories

photoart & poem - mapping memories
Photoart & poem – ©2018- Laura Granby

[hover over red links for the ancient meanings of place names or their modern equivalents]

Half-remembered place names like half a song of lyrics
– with this roll-call, will they manifest their magic?
conjure spells from spelling? And though still there on the map
many are changed places, yet all the immaterial events
still cling like sticky buds on socks; insects in amber.

It must have been Brean where dreams were first ingrained
in sea sodden sand, mud at low tide and a hill of sorts
– we chased down dragons amongst Brythonic dunes.
At Men Ebeli which was once the stone of colts
they jumped Cornubian outcrops like foals and were foamed away
fast as the tongue can roll under waves to murmur: Menabilly
but the pools stayed, almost still, wafting broad kelp shields
over see-through shrimps and jelly blob abominations
and up in the grass at Gribbin Head lolling like topsy-turvy gulls
arms akimbo – til a wasp sting felled me to earth.

Ancient Britons found a stronghold by the alder grove
taken in turns by Celt and Jute – then Romans called it Cantiacorum
Kent’s cathedral city in the Eden of England
knee capped in snow or petal blossom, hedge stretched for nests
and pinetop pinnacles to clamber for the feathery flypasts
orchards ripened with damson plums, goblet-shaped for gobblers
early apples pitted by worm or teethmarks trialling sweetness
and just a skip and hop from this Pilgrim orb, the salty bays
splayed out north and east from shingled Herne to Sandwich
with ample sand to grit crab teas and buttered bread.

Marble-mouthed and staccato sharp the Anglo-Saxon tongue
and like these Nor’folk we wended there to Esnuterle
then to Heacham where wild duck hunters greased their guns
and grapeshot from the ripening gorse was fired in hot Septembers
but once I’d heard the blast of horn in Sutton Hoo
I settled for Wudubrycg like a pre-loved wooden houseboat
sinking dignity into decay, with contentment in the creek
and long-legged waders piping to the wind that’s always heading west.

Took me a while to take up Sherry’s Friday prompt, inspired by the poet Al Purdy: To Say the Names of Places You Love
but I’m in time for another round of  Poetry Pantry that she’s hosting today

25 thoughts on “Mapping memories

    1. thank you Jilly – that simile just popped up! so tenacious the memories of some places – it was a pleasure to revisit

  1. Took me a while to get here, too, but am so thrilled to read this poem of magical names, with gorgeous imagery. I love your title “Mapping Memories”. This was simply wonderful to read, Laura. Bravo!

    1. oh what a positively provocative prompt you set Sherry – I hope I made up for the lack of poetic names with these lines

  2. This is a fantastic response to the prompt, Laura!💜 I love “cling like sticky buds on socks” and just might use the term on someone. I also studied about Anglo-Saxon and Old English language in university.. it was thrilling to learn how English evolved over the years.💜

    1. how interesting Sanaa – all those influences are what makes English so rich -not linguistically lyrical but what a wealth of words – and we all get to to use them in our poems!

    1. a jaunt through some places I have loved/love – happy to hear the delight was infectious

  3. There’s an almost magical feel to this piece. Every place has its mythology, especially the last one stamped with the stories that are yours.

    1. all my own stories with poetic licence – glad you felt the magic Rommy – thank you

  4. thank you for this incredible journey through these places with ancient names. i can almost see a dragon sunning itself on a ridge. 🙂

    1. was packing alliteration along with memories. Come and see these places for yourself!

    1. many English place names do not ring poetically so reverted to their origins and derivations – a rich history indeed Rosemary – thank you

  5. I’ve not been to these places, and yet because of history and literature they seem familiar. Some ancestors doubtless knew them well. Your verse is rich with moodiness and character. In fact, the places are characters in themselves, aren’t they?

    1. Thank you for your comment Beth – the places have character, and I added my moods and memories. Perhaps some feel familiar – Daphne du Maurier books? She lived at Menabilly.

feedback is food for thought....

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