I haven’t written in a while. In truth, other things have got in the way. But personal events over the last week or so have made me rethink. Listen, I’m good, better, on the mend, and although what happened was serious, I was very, very lucky. I still am.
And so while the poem below is about a rugby situation, it is also about me. And maybe you. The truth of anyone’s life is that we have roots, bases, souls, that need looking after. If we just keep on taking, things will eventually stop working. If you don’t look after your roots, the fruit will fail.
Rugby in England has disregarded the notion of structure for a long time. In pursuit of the fruit at the top of the tree, rugby has forgotten about the grassroots game, the pathways, the junior clubs, the lower leagues, the structure upon which their ‘business’ stands.
A really good example of this showed itself this week in the news that a Netflix-style documentary will look to increase interest (revenue streams) in the Six Nations. Now that competition is an incredibly successful product in rugby terms. Maybe not up against football or F1 but tickets are scarce and expensive for the Six Nations games. Now, let’s say this documentary goes ahead and works, increasing interest, revenue, and sponsorship – where will that money go? In to the roots of the game? No, it will quickly flow out and into the pockets of the executives/talent/investors sat at the top of the tree.
The Worcester Warriors and Wasps scenarios are very sad but they are not illnesses in themselves, they are symptoms. And I can tell you symptoms are just warnings, messages, a missive from the future trying to tell you something very important. We need to listen. We won’t miss the fruit, as much as we will miss the tree.
A new thing – I’ve decided to record an audio version of the poem. Poems should ALWAYS be spoken out loud, not read. So please excuse my performance and nasally tones, but you might like it. (That said, I do enjoy the way that poetry can sometimes appear on the page. I had some fun with that element.)
Keep safe and well. Sam
Pears and Apocrita
Worcester’s pears, all three of them,
lie among the late autumnal stems.
Having dropped, as far as it is fathomable to drop,
enduring bruises, thumps, unkind branches, way up top.
They gaze up high, the zenith so tall,
Trying to reconcile their fall.
How their plump flesh was slowly devoured,
their juice imbibed, guzzled, soured,
leaving little strength to hold on.
Their innards removed,
each pear still bears a hole
through which the counterfeiters got in.
Nothing left now,
but a semblance and antiquity,
swinging in the wind.
Not too far away, a three-waisted wasp inches,
alone, buckled, under a wintry sun.
A distant, heatless memory pinches:
On the turret of a wing, he mustered might
but now he crawls;
acres between him and premier flight.
He was not near the pears,
but animals like him
this habitat ran.
he appears to mouthe,
in tones as foreign as they are familiar,
‘You take what you can
but we have all experienced
the harshness of winter.’
Winter, a word as useful
as a woollen shawl
across each of our overgrown
an agreed effect and sorrow we all endured;
‘could do nothing about’.
Now we surreptitiously file,
no, mask other failings under the twill.
A sideways glance, a passive smile,
‘Winter’, we whimper, acquiescing to and still.
Our abode sits beneath the big tree.
We could touch palms, hand in hand,
but generosity seems to flow out, not in.
We take from the top, forgetting the bottom.
Each spring, people have helped themselves;
marvelling in the fruit and foliage that May or June will bring.
The good stuff, highest hanging,
no finer feeling in your fingers,
firm yet fabulous,
give us more,
from the tip,
From low to high.
Every tree that ever grew
or will grow, again,
did so this way:
From bottom to top.
Any way else is folly; avaricious foolishness.
No! Fools and their money are soon parted!
More from the top; harder, faster, do not tend the base: just take. And take. And take. And take.
Until there’s nothing left.
A hollowed-out pear.
An aporcrita, three-waisted;
no longer inching: ‘Dead.’ they said.
Bereft, we recollect: we only ever thought about the fruit.
Not why we played, or stayed around each club, to see those mates that mattered:
that was the gift the tree gave.
Big, bounteous, benevolent, brave,
and we took from its top,
time after time, never looking
after the bottom. Here’s the reason
to my rhyme: tend to the roots
and there will always, always be fruit.