Image by Alan Young

Poem introduction

When I started out as a writer when I was about fifteen I wanted to be a nature poet - and everything else just got in the way - issues of identity and gender and politics and all that. And now at the grand old age of forty I'm beginning to think hard again about what the ecologists are telling us and about what is our rightful relationship with the natural world. This poem's called 'Pipistrelles'.

Pipistrelles

Pipistrelles

In the centre of the sheep-field
a stand of Douglas firs
hold between them, tenderly,
a tall enclosure, like a vase.

How could we have missed it
before today - just never seen
this clear, translucent vessel
tinted like citrine?

What we noticed were pipistrelles:
cinder-like, friable; flickering
the place hained by trees
till the air seemed to quicken,

and the bats were a single
edgy intelligence, testing an idea
for a new form,
which unfolded, cohered

before our eyes. The world's
mind is such interstices; cells
charging with cool dawn light;
- is that what they were telling us?

- but they vanished, suddenly,
before we'd understood,
and the trees grew in a circle,
elegant and mute.


from The Tree House (Picador, 2004), copyright © Kathleen Jamie 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Kathleen Jamie Reading her own poems

1View from the Cliffs

2The Leaving of an Island

3Black Spiders

4Peter the Rock

5Julian of Norwich

6The Way We Live

7From <i>The Autonomous Region</i>

8The Queen of Sheba

9Child with Pillar Box and Bin Bags

10Wee Wifey

11Perfect Day

12Mr and Mrs Scotland Are Dead

13Outreach

14Arraheids

15Hand Relief

16Swallows and Swifts

17The Sea-house

18Rooms

19Skeins o Geese

20From Ultrasound: Ultrasound, Thaw, Bairnsang, Prayer

21The Tay Moses

22Crossing the Loch

23The Graduates

24Mrs McKellar, her martyrdom

25Bonaly

26Lochan

27Rhododendrons

28The Well at the Broch of Gurness

29St Bride's

30Bolus

31Meadowsweet

32Pipistrelles

33The hill-track (Frogs)

34The Wishing Tree

Books by Kathleen Jamie