Snap, Crackle and Pop

Shhh…I think I can hear someone coming

You’ve heard of brothel creepers? Silent shoes, so no-one can hear you coming (or going)? Great idea, but why has no-one invented silent waterproof jackets? Perhaps if there was a catchier name…

Walking the dog requires me to wear a waterproof jacket (come on, it is August and I am in Ireland), but the amount of noise it makes is doing my head in. Rustle, crinkle, snap. Like popped rice cereal, but without the milk or flavour.

I walk along trying to keep up with my girl Tully, making sure to swing my arms (so my wristband records maximum steps – don’t ask), but the noise is deafening. No doubt the wildlife hears me from 500 metres away and hides. No wonder I rarely see any of the hares, badgers and foxes that live close to the lane where we walk.

And it isn’t just one coat or jacket that is noisy – I’ve a whole wardrobe of them.

It puts me in mind of an evening I spent last year at the Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar, County Mayo. I was there to hear what turned out to be a very entertaining double act of novelist and short story writer Donal Ryan, and poet Martin Dyar, reading their own and each other’s work.

I’m normally a bit of a fidget and have trouble sitting still. But on this occasion, I was forced into stillness and wrote the following little ditty after:

At the Reading
My new green coat rustles, look-at-me loud
inappropriately waterproof and warming
in the pin-drop quiet of an auditorium
draped in many yards of funereal black.
Microphone snaking ear to cheek, eyes
raised in solemn deference to the gods,
shirt sleeves rolled neatly to the elbow,
the prize-winning poet means business.
In staccato Mayo he enunciates carefully
his lauded verse, pleased at its new status
on the national English curriculum.
I manage not to crinkle, marvelling instead
that from now on, thousands of Leaving Cert
teenagers will wring unexpected meaning
from ‘Death and the Post Office’.

So, silent waterproofs, where are you? I want to listen to poems and watch wildlife, unheard.

Although the reason the animals aren’t around when I’m out walking could be just because they are crepuscular and I’m not. Honest. (Three cheers for punctuation!)

PS I love Martin Dyar’s book of poetry, ‘Maiden Names’, and Donal Ryan is one of my favourites, too, even though I blush at all the sweary words he uses.

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