Sunday, 30 August 2015

Umbrellas Last Stand

As their shadowy name suggests, umbrellas were originally devised as structures intended to provide protection against the sun for fair ladies; (ditto parasols). They have been more than happy to be pressed into service for the odd passing shower, but defence against driving wind and rain? Really, that's an evolution too far.

To their credit, they tried to step up to the task. You can find umbrellas with all manner of rivets and reinforced webbing, double-spoke systems, carbon fibre shafts, the works. I've owned a few of these heavy-duty items, supposed storm-defiers that are meant never to invert, bend or shred in the face of a serious onslaught. I got through three of them in my first year of living in Blackpool! Twisted and ruined every one. So I've given up on umbrellas now, don't possess one any longer. I have two options on rainy days:
- Just get wet which I sometimes choose to do if the day and the rain are warm and not too squally; it's actually quite refreshing in a 'don't give a stuff', connected to nature sort of way.
- Stay completely dry by donning a windproof and waterproof hooded jacket (Paramo in my case but other brands do the trick) and storm trousers.

It's a sad commentary on the 'summer' we've had in 2015 that I've used my Paramo more in the last two months than I had in the previous couple of years.

Today's poem was suggested by the sight of umbrella-toting tourists trying to enjoy the delights of Blackpool promenade on a particularly wet August day and by a binful of completely trashed umbrellas sighted at the end of that same day... sadly, not a one-off occurrence.

Anemoi - August 2015
and so this most unseasonal of summers
bumps from one wet trough into another:
high holiday along the golden mile,
tide in, a few brave tourists out
making the best of it
as slanting rain strafes the promenade,
stings a roiling sea,
driven by relentless wind;
no Zephyr this
for some capricious god
has teased or tweaked
the jetstream out of true,
unleashing Notos to precipitate
fierce weeks of deluge

a rubbish bin
with four umbrellas sticking out
(or in, depending on your point of view);
and every single one
was stowed as trash with feeling,
having failed its owner

torn and tortured by the wind,
ripped, inverted or unspoked,
wearied and found wanting,
they talk among themselves
their tears of raindrops dripping
from wind-ragged and shredded shrouds,
their skeletons inelegantly twisted
no more use are they to anyone

in the abated quiet of evening
a lone umbrella
rocking gently on the swell,
abandoned and upturned
like a radio dish pointing to the heavens,
picks up cryptic messages
from the void
of retribution on those with whom
the heavens are annoyed

Thanks for reading. Wishing you a clement week, S ;-)