protective measures

Good morning, how are you all doing? Tom really enjoyed all of your wonderful (and hugely helpful) responses to yesterday’s post – and I suspect you’ll see him following up many of these paper folding leads quite soon. . . .

It’s rather blustery and rainy here today (though the weather is less severe than that what’s currently being dealt with by our friends in Shetland and Fair Isle) and my morning walk definitely seemed much quieter. In recent days, I’ve been enjoying the sight of meadow pipits, parachuting about in their crazy display flights, but today there was only a lone familiar raven, riding the high air currents and avoiding the mobbed attentions of a gang of crows. Fewer birds then, but I did glimpse what was probably the largest brown hare I’ve ever seen, bounding away from me at speed across the windblown muir. I love watching hares at this time of year – and I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled for this one again tomorrow!

A strong wind is one of those things that can easily throw my body off balance, and has (on many an occasion) knocked me over. Here’s another of my poems about post-stroke walking, and falling.

Protective measures

Know that
your body’s an
un-balance in which
all boots will be
weighed and found wanting.

Grant that
in vague discomfort
is vouchsafed the gift
of your upright volition.

Fathom what lies ahead
water? brambles? scree?
you know that ice on these worn stones turns this part of the path banana-slick.

Question your every move.
At the start, you counselled one arm to be more like the other
it took a while for you to learn that it can only be itself.

Still, you
feel the muscles of the thigh pick up the rhythm of their instruction from the brain,
see how
the ankle flexes and
pivots forward.

Size up your limbs’ capacity:
you think you’ve come to know
their bounds of time and distance
but they are still able to surprise you with their
thus far and no further.

Count it out:
2, 3, 4
take things gently but
keep up the pace
recall that at a standstill your own form cannot bear the weight of you.

Don’t let the dogs get under your feet
don’t pull up short
don’t turn your head for snipe or raven.

Ready yourself:
step forth in the knowledge that today’s fall is, in effect, already here,
not just possible, but likely.

Walk with the path’s margin always to your left
(so that, when you tumble, you will land on giving ground)
then, as the leg buckles, as the body collapses, throw out your arms to
embrace with abandon the welcoming earth.

Get to know ditches, puddles, tussocks
become happily indifferent to mud
regard each soft encounter with moss or sand as
a kind of benediction.

Accustom yourself to the everyday occurrence of what
to others seems indignity
wash the stains and grazes and
allow each ache to tell out its own story.

Take what comes:
the shapes your wonky body throws
laugh in the face of every fall and
wear a coat for falling.

The image at the top of this post is a photograph by Tom, entitled Stravaigin’ no.1. The stravaigin’ figure is me.