Don’t get me wrong,
There will always be the profound and the valid interlocked
In tour book names where the actual proper names,
Notre Dame, Duomo, Kremlin, Beefeaters
Become shorthand expressions for
Things of public fame and personal longing
Several steps down the thought chain
From what they architecturally, philosophically,
Momentously should summon up and yet do
When we suddenly get all those moments and visions
When cognitive haze bows to point-perfect clarity.
I’ve trawled and slagged myself around
Compendious monuments and it’s not them
That end up feeling devalued.
I’d feel gutted all over if you couldn’t
Pigeonhole me in Trafalgar Square
Or in a European anywhere as
‘Sightseer with the right cultural intentions’.
But maybe decades of scrapbooks, postcards
Densely stacked pages of good education and
Geographers’ guides for those not yet travelled
Have worked too much magic in reading encounters
Spurred imagination that could fill up bookshelves
And along with the facts and a belt of ideas
We know inside out all the things we’ve imagined
We go to the city, bridge, church, site
And it won’t disappoint but it won’t
Hoist or hearten.
Showed the Acropolis (finally)
We’re anxious to get to the top
At the top we are wreathed
In the faintly familiar.
Of course that is the moment
We need to revise
How we see things
And adjust what we are
In the instant of being there
But even the genius
Cannot always recalibrate.
To be wide-eyed and good-hearted
Still counts for everything.
If so at the heart of our connoisseur’s blind spot
Is the gentlest beauty that bypassed obsessing
The point where the footnotes eclipsed standard text
And remained unruffled whilst we trawled all the same old.
Who needs expert weekend pull-outs
When you could sunbathe by lakes with golden inflections
And then find the capacity to rejoice in the rain
That turns midsummer islands into critical mysteries
Embellished by damp bark and the thread of the pine needles
Forming a carpet – then the key to our sequences?
I had not known one arboretum so off the beaten track
And so close to hand could perform serene miracles;
No extravagance or design monumental
But cross-pollination of rose, shrub and dignity
Flipping this mind from ‘here I am’ mediation
Into the expanse of the cleanest reflection
And pedestrian roads were pedestrian friendly
And where the urbane would fear knots of aggression
Street corners beckoned new brooks of tranquility
As watery rapids churned on to conclusions
Of grander silence and peacekeeping frames
When the sky is perfectly white close to midnight
I will not flinch but know I am
Where I achingly pledged to return in one lifetime
No need for karma or the half-cock vicarious
No need for reviews of what happened since yesterday;
This is no homeland but oh, my Tampere,
I would go down fathoms within your distillery,
Break for the surface and still reach for seconds.
Words copyright Aidan McGee 2013. Don’t forget EE Pridgeon’s image expertise extends well beyond the art of very discerning photography