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.

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Recordings

Kathleen Jamie

Kathleen Jamie Reading her own poems

1View from the Cliffs

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2The Leaving of an Island

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3Black Spiders

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4Peter the Rock

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5Julian of Norwich

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6The Way We Live

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7From The Autonomous Region

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8The Queen of Sheba

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9Child with Pillar Box and Bin Bags

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10Wee Wifey

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11Perfect Day

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12Mr and Mrs Scotland Are Dead

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13Outreach

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14Arraheids

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15Hand Relief

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16Swallows and Swifts

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17The Sea-house

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18Rooms

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19Skeins o Geese

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20From Ultrasound: Ultrasound, Thaw, Bairnsang, Prayer

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21The Tay Moses

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22Crossing the Loch

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23The Graduates

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24Mrs McKellar, her martyrdom

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25Bonaly

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26Lochan

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27Rhododendrons

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28The Well at the Broch of Gurness

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29St Bride's

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30Bolus

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31Meadowsweet

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32Pipistrelles

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33The hill-track (Frogs)

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34The Wishing Tree

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Books by Kathleen Jamie