Back to Base

I’ve been tuned in to the bassline
of my every day, a solitude tuned so low
it vibrates in my gut. Above white noise
(or is it tinnitus?), the strident call of a crow
and the pigeons’ throaty coos counterpoint
a blackbird’s song: they have formed the baseline
of my Covid day for so long that the drone
of an aeroplane passing overhead
fills me with surprise, and a feeling of dread
at the thought of boozed up sun-seekers
unleashed on the planet once again,
curving carbon emissions like a vapour trail
across the atmosphere. And so it goes:
“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” *.

Kim M. Russell, 13th July 2020

My response to earthweal weekly challenge: A Song for Shifting Baselines

Brandon says the scope of this week’s challenge is to observe shifting baselines in our world, in climate change, our nations’ governance, the pandemic. How are we changing? What has been lost? Is there an experience which demonstrates the vanishing act between generation or in our own life stories? Or write about the importance of poetry in a vanishing and increasingly silent world. What has the tradition of poetry lent to our lives and the world about us? How have we passed it on to the young? How can poetry’s voice and authority be preserved?

*The more things change, the more they stay the same.’ An epigram by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in the January 1849 issue of his journal Les Guêpes (The Wasps).


15 thoughts on “Back to Base

  1. Very astute and timely and apropos to the challenge, Kim. I like how “baseline” became “bassline,” the ostinato pulse of lockdown, low and slow and alert to minor things just above. The return of the shriekjets and their cargo of fun-seekers does not bode well for any of us. Florida is tanned in disease now. Also the reflection in the last line begs the question: what indeed does change from the bassline but the clutter of more noise? Well done, thanks for bringin’ it – Brendan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankfully, my little study is at the back of the house, which means I often miss deliveries as they don’t knock loudly enough on the door. Lately, with the arrival of holiday makers on the Norfolk Broads, I have heard a fair few boat engines out there on Tyler’s Dyke. The camp site has been filling up, but that’s a long walk down the road, and they tend to pass our cottage in the evening, on their way to the pub..

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  2. I hear very similaar sounds though here the main road roars with car loads of people heading to the beaches. Planes too of course but less than usuaal. I agree those sounds do invoke dread. I wonder if they’ll ever wake up but the answer seems to be no -not in this lifetime!

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    1. Thankfully, we don’t have to much traffic in our little village but a main road passes by. During the lockdown, I heard perhaps three or four cars a day, usually grocery delivery vans, and tractors. It’s increased since the local camping site reopened.

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  3. The biggest conundrum of all is how lethargic humankind is in the midst of crisis which should have galvanized us all. Sigh. I love the birdsong in your poem – these comforts and small joys are still with us thankfully. I love your poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is so much music in this , Kim, that recurring “O”…..solitude, low, crow, coo, Covid, drone, booze, goes, chose…it’s a pleasure to read..and it captures the state we are in….JIM

    Liked by 1 person

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