My sister Sarah co-presents the monthly book programme on Radio Teesdale. I told her when I had come across a reference, in Dorothy Wordsworth's journal (Wordsworth 1960: 213), to the fact that William's poem 'The grasshopper' had been written not far from where Sarah lives. Sarah was delighted to make something of that in a later edition of the programme, and kindly asked if she could read some of my own work on air.
This was in February 2010. Potential themes included February, radio, and love. I was able to send in a poem called 'Utter February' that included a reference to a radio. It had been published in Jared Millar's magazine Perimeter in 2000.
November's cold call
promised a free stereo
for my trial subscription
to the local evening rag.
the paper girl had problems
getting to my flat:
neighbours had to let her in.
I cancelled after a week.
Tonight it's come up,
my free radio cassette:
smaller than I thought,
feeble, few stations, darkness.
It feels very right, somehow.
Not much love in that one. For Radio Teesdale's remaining theme, then, I sent another poem dating from 1997. It's a respectful parody of Yeats' poem 'To be carved on a stone at Thoor Ballylee'.
A LONG WAY AFTER YEATS
My wife, the physicist Dr Clare
Sansom, by quantities of email
for automatic writing, share
of her Goodmans midi hi-fi tower,
sound of her beating heart, and power
of love, restored this shattered male;
and may her memory remain
when I am ruin once again.
Yes, 1997: actually written a year or so before we got married. I remember reading it to my mother over the phone, and she said, "You want to hang on to that one, Aidan. It'll improve with keeping." It has.
Wordsworth, D. (ed. Clark, C.). 1960. Home at Grasmere: extracts from the journal of Dorothy Wordsworth (written between 1800 and 1803) and from the poems of William Wordsworth. Harmondsworth: Penguin.