Maitreyabandhu is a master of simple language and conversational tone. It would be easy to think that not much happens in his poems but, for me, every significant aspect of life happens. This month’s challenge is to write a poem where simplicity is the key. For inspiration, here’s Maitreyabandhu’s The Man:
The man was sitting by the kitchen window.
Outside, the trees were full of nervous birds,
nodding their heads or flicking up their tails
in gestures of defiance. A pheasant walked
along a hedge, his copper coat restrained,
even the sun held back behind the trees.
The man was watching ladybirds climb up
the windowpane: so many on the walls,
so many huddled near the lights! They fell
down on their backs as if they’d taken ether.
The house stood in the corner of a field
with woodpigeons, always woodpigeons, in twos
or squadrons in the trees; and a robin singing
from a post, his song as bright as teaspoons.
The sun rose in pale and broken stripes,
then set in a perfect orange ball. Nothing
happened inside the house. The man took off
his glasses when he slept, drank two strong cups
of coffee every day, and walked around
the garden with his scarf around his neck.
He wanted signs of life: the sound of someone
closing a drawer or slipping on a jacket;
but no-one pressed the gravel drive or opened
the kitchen door. A patch of sunlight swivelled
round the room, brightening the kettle’s spout.
The man lay down and wrote inspiring things
on little scraps of card. He thought he heard
a hare snuffling in the grass, an owl
hooting in the night. But then the taps
ran dry and the blue pilot light went out.