Tracks, flight-paths and bee-lines

Karen Macfarlane

Where implies a place, a location, a point you can reach, and exist, and leave. While the ‘where’ of this question is obviously a metaphorical place, it can at least be imagined as though it were a physical one. Let’s suggest it might be a clearing in a big old wood, with lots of paths leading to and from it, from marked rights of way down to rabbit tracks, not forgetting flight-paths and bee-lines. The ways in and out of this clearing are important, because when we consider the person who begins and ends here, there is not only one person.

There’s the poet, who carried their poem along the pathways of their life to leave it here; and all the readers who have arrived on their own paths from different starting points. You could imagine the poem creating an image within this clearing, maybe a shaft of sunlight falling on an oak leaf on the forest floor. Every person who sees it will have their own viewpoint and this may change, depending on the path they arrived on today. And that brings me to my point: that this place will be constantly shifting a little, this point where the people involved in the poem begin and end, and the poem takes on a life of its own. Because all life exists in relation to the other lives around it; a poem, if it’s alive in any way, most of all.

The question immediately made me think of a physical place and I found it interesting to have a metaphor to explore the subject. I’ve worked in healthcare for 30 years and have to write very concise case notes, so writing briefly comes naturally.

Karen Macfarlane is studying for a BA in Creative Writing. Her poetry appears in magazines including Poetry Scotland, Spelt, Green Ink and The Poets’ Republic. See more.