Then spree

poetry & diary by Nia Davies

Tag: island

Kekova, August

Kekova sunken ruin

Before the tiled blocks of red and marble beige, Roman stripes, crumbled into the sea like Lancashire cheese, there was some arch, the crown of the ancient shipyard. Now you can swim up to the graffitied slabs and half-sunk steps.

But on the village side, the ruin is half in half out of the bright Aegean. We strain over the glass bottom boat, petrol reeking in the pristine blue. “Don’t stand on someone else’s beach towel!” Anchors are forbidden so we chug as slow as the cruiser can allow. Passing over the ruin we cluster over the imperfect portholes. “Look for the poetries on the sea bed,” the guide says. And yes, through the bubbles on the glass and the misted murk, we glimpse that submerged elderly surface: vessel wrecks, urn handles and the bellycurves of pots left to weed, forbidden from touch for millennia. The rubbish of rubbled homes. Happens that the Romans didn’t have plastic bags, only elegant pots, poetries that survived a sinking shuddering quake, a catastophe that left the isle half toppled into the sea. They never returned.

Finland from the air

Cycling on snow in Jyväskylä

March 30th, 2011

Pleated, becheckered and monochrome, it’s possible to see the managed pine and the white ground between trees, galvanised in the light. Palette lakes: smooth pulped and pressed flat. You can see the ripped, trimmed and scored woods, the growths left to bloom in rings like boreal fairy glens. Summer house are still submerged. From here it’s a stickle-backed land, seeming far more cottaged and tended than from the ground. You see the farm ponds and where black heated tarmac crosses the crispy white ski tracks.

The vanguard of sea ice hugs the far coast:  a barrage against liquid. The edges of the Baltic are still frozen – they hold a viscous edge that peels and retreats on warm days, crusts and extends on cold. In the  shallow seas around the coast snow furs over the islets that are hugged close and made part of the land only to be released into the sea again come spring. Some of the archipelagos are linked together by stringy bridges.

Over Turku the ice loosens.  There are beaches of snow in the bays, ringed islands that could almost be Greek with their white sands in bright blue. Over Sweden I watch the land start to brown, the lakes crack. There are long white scores cut out of the trees that stretch in very straight lines across miles of field, wood, frozen sea and island – presumably they are old imperial sledgeways?

Over Denmark the clouds come and I try to make out parts of the royal wedding magazine the Finnish woman next to me is reading: ‘Diana vs Kate’ – why are they so interested?

From the land of Finns to the land of Angles – we are both fished fine angles and filled lands, finished on an ask, an Ang, a Fin. The plane has taken me from winter back to spring. On the ground the foggy air smells warmly wet – long released from ice. The willows and thorns are leafing. I have gone from zero ice to liquid pools, the muds of the new year. We are quick to forget an English winter. But the Finnish winter I am fresh from will be harder to let go of. In the leech-grey wood one tree has come into green. As the train creeps into London the land warms another degree, and the sparse trees and track-side buddleia start to show it, begrudgingly.