Ungraspable a poem by Colleen Keating

 

ungraspable

it happened with the turn of tide
on a shallow sandy shoal
now it had beached dry

hot air sharp as spears
summer sun
glistening on its silver grey skin

blue spots shimmered across its flank
as it flapped intermittently
like a large bird with a broken wing

our carefree stroll along the beach
stopped
here was a life and death matter

the world was silent
only the waves measuring time
like a tolling bell

a young stingray lay before us
like a sacrificial lamb
eyes open as if pleading

using our bucket we splashed
water over its fretting skin
like cooling a fever

until it was still
then we noticed the hook
embedded in its flesh

we got down on our knees
my grandson and i
as if to reassure this creature

there was a tenderness
confusion
a hole of helplessness

a lifesaver brought a spade –
i was sorry it could not be pushed back
to sigh one last time amidst the waves

later the piled up hill of sand
was still there
Is that where he is? my grandson asked

it was time to take his little hand
and walk to the edge of the ocean
listen to its rill whoose back and forth

see its gifts of shells and spinning stones
watch the gulls whirl in the thrill of life
feel the ungraspable cycle of give and take

by Colleen Keating

 

A Stingray story  with Mum, Grandma ,Edison and Darcy

(Written while we were holidaying at the Dolphin House)

It happened in the dark of night
on The Entrance beach
and in the morning
it made us all so sad.

It happened at high tide
and we found it as we were rambling
along the edge of the waves
playing happily with pieces of Neptunes Necklace

and looking for all sort of shells the high tide had left behind.
It was Mum and Grandma and us two boys Edison and Darcy.

We were jumping in the waves and running up on the sand
and then we saw it
a large grey and blue blob lying helplessly on the sand
it was a large greyish stingray
beached, left behind when the tide went out

 

It couldn’t breath air because it doesn’t have lungs.
It has gills like fish and breathes its air through the water
Mum thought she saw it take a last gulp.
It was too heavy to push back in the sea.
It lay there before us all .
It looked so beautiful in the sunlight.

It was grey with beautiful blue marking
and sad eyes and open gills.

We all patted it and were surprised at it soft sticky skin.
and remembered the Torpedo Rays in Octanauts.

We stood helplessly by, till a lifesaver came
He turned it over and it became an even sadder story

because it had a fishing hook embedded in its blobby flesh .

We felt so mad about people who don’t look after our sea because all the sea creatures are so endangered by plastics and pollution.

Back at home we looked up fun fact about Stingrays
and it was good to learn some interesting things.

 

Fun Facts about Stingrays

1 They are one of the beautiful creatures of the sea as they move along in the water. 

2 They have no bones in their body – their skeleton is made up of flexible cartilage (the bendy stuff that your ears and nose are made of

3 Baby stingray are hatched from eggs that are held within the body of the mother 

4 They use a super set of electric senses to search for food. Their eyes are on the top side of their body   and their mouth and gills are found underneath so in murky water this electromagnetic sense is especially useful for searching for prey.

5 they like to live by themselves  and only come together for breeding . 

6 They protect themselves with venomous spines or barbs in their tail

7 They feed on fish clams and shrimp

8 Sadly they are now a threatened species .Overfishing, habitat loss and climate change are the major threats 

 

Thank you Edison for allowing me to use your drawing in this story.

Wild Moment: Thomas Keating-Jones, Published by John Muir Trust

A wintery hike on the Downs inspired nine year old Thomas to write An Ice Poem.

An Ice Poem

Glittering, glistening glass gleams and glides across the top of the frozen pond.
Mother nature’s classical music singing as it slides
Like stained-glass, the shattered shards  catch all the colours
It cracks, twinkling across the top of the ice…the ice…the ice…
It twinkles. jingles, like magic on the air.
Shining cracks appear wherever your foot rests on the shelf edge,
Chasing air bubbles, full of life,  out of their frozen prison.
It’s the top of the hill.
It’s the top of our world.

Thomas Keating-Jones, age 9 (with help from Eleanor Keating-Jones)

Thomas K-J ice pond 2

So proud to find my grandson and grand-daughter writing their thoughts about their wintery days on their nearby Downs while on a short exercise time from their strict lock-down

Welcome to Wild Inside – a fortnightly window to inspiration, activities  and a little bit of joy and wildness close to home.

We are incredibly lucky to have some great hikes on our doorstep. This poem celebrates the ice covered pond at the top of the Downs!

 

The Ocean Wonder by Jacinta Van Eyk

 

The Ocean Wonder

 

Waves crashing on Keating Beach.                      

The bright sun cuts through

the dark grey clouds.

The water sparkles on top

of the shimmering rocks.

The dolphins leap peacefully

over the crashing waves.

All morning butterflies flutter                                      

past our window.

All different people walking, riding, running .

The ocean wonder is so

extraordinary.

by Jacinta    8 years old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

written while on holidays at The Dolphin House, Central Coast

Searching for Mushrooms by Colleen Keating

Finding Fungi

by Thomas Keating-Jones

Walking in the rain is terrible fun.
It’s terrible,
And it’s fun!

Searching for fungi makes it worthwhile!
I mean it’s not that you would choose a day like this
(Unless you’re my mum!)
We have to go slow . . . drip, drip
dripping along
drip, drip
dripping rain on my hair!

It’s like a song where we do the walking
and the mushrooms do the talking
listen….

I am listening to the fungi talking through my feet.
guiding me to the next discovery
camouflaged amongst the leaves
some under the trees.
some in the moss.

… magical mushrooms
I walk in the woods
I step carefully
listen . . .

Go quietly. . slow, slow
for underground stories are around each corner.
along with huge puddles
when you walk in the English rain!

We have to go slow . . . drip, drip,
dripping along
drip, drip,
dripping rain on my hair!

It’s like a song where we do the walking
and the mushrooms do the talking
listen . . .

Next time I plan to bring my goggles and snorkel!
Walking in the rain is terrible fun!
It’s terrible
And it’s fun!
Searching for fungi makes it worthwhile!

 

Finding a purple Mushroom for grandma her favourite colour.

How beautiful .  I saw the fairies  and the fairy ring when I sneaked up.

A little kingdom . We feel like Gulliver in Lillyput land

 

We have to go slow . . . drip, drip,
dripping along
drip, drip,
dripping rain on my hair!

Thank you Elizabeth and William, Thomas and Eleanor, your walk in the English countryside  was the incentive to go out into the Australian bush looking for  fungi and  mushrooms, the  little secrets of the earth.

 

a meeting

Colleen Keating

‘How shall I walk in the world
But looking for light and wisdom”  M. Oliver

you rise after rain
in autumnal mist
to walk out
and slow
not expecting to meet a prophet
calling in the wilderness
until you hear
a whisper of colour

Gulliver in Lillyput
you bend closer
your giant hands
part the grass
for secrets of the earth

gazing
stunned with humble beauty
the tiny  mushrooms
slight and lowly
strong and perfect
caps intact
have pushed up
from the dung of darkness
smelling earthy and dank
their miniture purple parasols
with ivory ruffled collars
nod slightly
very quietly

that moment
even eclipses the water lilies
that emerge from deepest mud

on return the next day
there is only soggy earth
brambles and mulch of leaves
as if they had never been

Colleen Keating

.

 

 

News on Splash, Slither, Squawk from St Augustine’s School, Coffs harbour

I am full of pride and thanks to my Grandson Edison

from Saint Augustine’s Primary School Newsletter, Coffs harbour.

Here is an extract from page 7 of the latest newsletter.

Exciting News from the LAR

We have a student who has become a published author, congratulations to Edison from 1S. His artworks have been published along with his Grandmothers short story and poem in Splash, Slither, Squawk -nature writing for children from The Society of Women Writers NSW. Thankyou Edison for kindly donating a copy to our school library for all students to enjoy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Launch of Splash, Slither, Squark  by Colleen Keating

 

A very special Zoom Launch today of  Splash, Slither, Squark 
the Society of Women Writers NSW 95th anniversary anthology of nature writing for children.

‘Curiouser and curiouser  it seems to me is the gift we need to give our children and grandchildren.

Curiosity leads to awe and wonder. 
When one has a sense of awe and wonder about nature, about a tree, a river, about flora and fauna one will care for them. 

Anything that creates this in the heart of a child has a chance of being seen as precious. This new book ‘Splash,Slither, Squark, which will go to school libraries will be a step towards this value.

 Sales of this book will help support RSPCA National Bushfire Appeal and Wombat Care Bundanoon.  Many thanks to co-editors Michele Bomford and Julie Thorndyke .

I am proud to have a poem, Platypus spotting is fun  and a short story about wonder when lost in the bush.

So proud the illustration of the platypus on the opposite page  to my poem is by my grandson Thomas with 2  further illustrations by grandchildren Edison chosen and the youngest illustrator Miss Eleanor .

 

ISBN  978-0-9808407-5-9 RRP  $20 https://womenwritersnsw.org/

Credit Card or PayPal: https://www.trybooking.com/BKXWO

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Muir Trust Writing Competition  – Wild Inside

Thomas Keating-Jones wins the Bronze Medal in the John Muir Writing Competition – Wild Inside for his poem in the under 18 year old section

 

 

It speaks as a 9 year old  boy in lockdown. 

I think this tree is smiling 

I think this tree is smiling 

With the light of the sunshine warming up it’s tiny new green leaves 

I also feel like smiling 

as the sun washes away the darkness in our hearts 

I think that tree is smiling 

With happiness and joy, as I look through a window

where the cherry blossoms danced in the wind

Gone now 

Time is passing

I think my tree is smiling 

As he knows his role in the world 

I can feel it’s strong branches 

It can feel my tiny hands 

I am up in its canopy hidden from the lockdown world 

My view is special and just for me 

I think this tree is smiling 

Smiling straight at me

I feel like smiling

I feel free 

Thomas Keating-Jones  

9 years old

 May 30th 2020

John Muir Trust Writing Competition  – Wild Inside

Under-18s Poetry

Winner: Jane

Linda Cracknell said: “This writer has created a great form for their poem,

 including lovely rhythm which makes it excellent to read aloud, 

and it’s clever, showing the human is clearly part of the natural world.”

Silver: Eliza

Bronze: Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What must our world do to build up its resilience ?

Below is a video of  Thomas reading  his new poem . Press IMG 9763 to hear him with his purple hair being a wild child not only in ISO and in Lockdown loving home-schooled in England but  at this time being on a summer holiday.

IMG_9763

What must our world do to build up its resilience ?

For me the answer is Listen to our children. Have hope in our children. Believe our world will be in good hands.
This then will make us work harder NOW  to leave the world the best we can
so the children of tomorrow  can say
we see the way for on the shoulders of giants we stand.

 

Thomas inspires me with his thoughts and words and expressions .

His poetry speaks to us all.
His voice speaks to us in hope that our young are on the way to make a difference.

I

What might become of earth

The air is Her great breath of life
The waves and ripples are the folds of Her cloak
The trees are Her garden
flowering in Her loving care
demonstrating her ethereal presence.
The Sun is Her eye to Earth.
Her glorious gateway to our world
We are a small part of her creation.
If we stand for nothing what we we fall for?
If we do not say enough when will it be?
If we are never satisfied when will our planet be stripped bare?
Barren
A void.
On the winds of time now come the winds of change
Who knows what might become of Earth. 

 

Thomas doing what he loves to do, using his words and his voice to make a difference.

A Hope-Daisy by Little Miss E.

   

Eleanor at work

A HOPE-DAISY

The daisy with all her hopes inside                    

It has her love inside it

My daisy is smiling right at us

The daisy is full of hope

to try and stop lockdown

It might just look like a daisy

but it is a hope-daisy for love

and for the children

by Eleanor Therese Keating-Jones

   

 

(Above photo:  A plaster cast of a Daisy made in home schooling)

Our little poet Eleanor at work

 

 

 

 

Shared Footprints by Michael and Colleen Keating

 

Shared Footprints  is a Picaro Poets chap book perfect for your pocket when out on a walk or perched on an outcrop of rock overlooking the ocean.   Order it through Ginninderra Press .

Over the past two years Michael and I have done a seasonal beach walk each season from  Tuggerah Lake,  The Entrance Beach around the headland to Blue Bay,  around the rock platform to Toowoon Bay and along the beach  for a Cafe breakfast  at Toowoon Bay Life Savers Club and then  we walk back .

We walk quietly with notepad and pen and jot down what we observe.  Over the years we have put our thoughts down  side by side in response to the beach,  the seasons and each other.  We put this manuscript to Brenda Eldridge from Ginninderra Press as a possible Picaro Poets Chap book. It was accepte,   formatted and published. It is  for people to enjoy nature hoping to stimulate deeper awareness in us all.

Available now from www.ginninderrapress.com.au  /picaro poets and scroll down to our name.

It is divided into four sections

Spring: New Beginnings
Summer: Under a Melting Sun
Autumn : Tumble of Ocean
Winter: Our Shadows Long

Just a few examples

sea pattern
periwinkle meander
in the interidal zone   MK

 

 

 

we quicken pace
as wind leans in
hand warm together  CK

 

DEDICATION

for our grandchildren, our little castle builders, channel diggers, treasure collectors

may they all be star throwers.

The Star Thrower*

  One dawn, a man was walking along the shore.

   he noticed a young person reaching down to the sand, 

   picking up something 

  and very gently throwing it back into the sea. 

As he got closer, he called out, 

“Good morning! What are you doing?”

 The young person paused, looked up and replied, 

“Throwing starfish into the sea.”

“Why are you throwing starfish into the sea?” he asked.

“The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in they’ll die.” 

“But, don’t you realise that there are miles of beach here 

 and starfish all along it. How can you possibly make a difference?”

The young person listened politely. 

Then knelt down, picked up another starfish 

and threw it  safely into the sea, past the breaking waves and said…

“Made a difference to this one.”

* Loren Eiseley  (adapted)

Thank you to  Picaro Poets to Brenda Eldridge who gives such inspiration, affirmation and support