I couldn’t think of a name for this poem for few days after I’d written it, but ended up settling on ‘Distraction’ because that’s exactly what it was.
I was sat in a lesson at work – I’m a teacher. I wasn’t teaching, but I was observing another member of staff in my role as mentor. The lesson wasn’t dull, so that wasn’t why I got distracted. On the contrary, it was going well, I’d filled in the sections of the observation form and we were at the point where I probably wasn’t going to see anything new. I try not to intervene with behaviour issues while I’m observing, so rather than keep too watchful an eye on the class, I drifted off for a minute and happened to glance out of the window. At the moment our lessons last for 2 hours and 50 minutes – thanks COVID-19 – and so, believe me, there’s plenty of time to drift off and still complete a perfectly good observation!
It was the view that set me off. From my seated vantage point there wasn’t actually a lot to see; mainly the tops of some unremarkable school buildings and the odd bird. But the sky was the main thing that caught both my eye and my imagination. Not to be too much of an old hippy, but it was just a lovely blue colour, which if you’re not familiar with English weather, isn’t that common. I started to scribble down some notes and even took a furtive visit to the window to take in the view properly, before scribbling for a little while longer. Anyway, the result was the poem you’re about to read which I completed from the notes a couple of days later while I was supposed to be teaching a class. Just kidding…
From the window, the faint blue of a sky occasionally diluted further by barely there clouds, distracts me. Like the sky crayoned in on a child’s drawing. I take it all in, seeing the blue interrupted where the vapour trails of all too rare planes impose themselves.
Plump, cartoonish gulls congregate on rooves, to take the air, shoot the breeze and socialise. Another nod to a child’s naïve drawing. Even the puddles on the flat rooftops seem to bask in the unexpected sun.
In the distance a church steeple dominates the view, as if reaching upwards like some scarecrow that attempts to scatter the clouds that spoil the sky. The sun sparkles in windows that now seem to smile their approval.
Houses stand suddenly more proud than they have in weeks, a carpet of now inviting green at the front of each and the autumn trees give one last exhibition, their near fallen leaves for now like peacock feathers in the afternoon light.
The noise of a giddy school yard now travels further, no longer softened by the gloom of the fog. Even the brutalist confrontation of the nearby pylons is transformed into something, if not beautiful, then at least more acceptable to the eye.
My workplace is at the top of a big hill and from the classroom that I was sat in, it overlooks quite a lot of countryside, the town of Ossett and parts of Wakefield. The M1 motorway is neatly hidden behind another hill and it’s actually a lovely far reaching view. You can even see a couple of enormous power stations many miles away on a clear day such as the one that I was writing about. Even the power stations take on a certain sense of majesty on days like these. It’s not the first time that this particular view has distracted me.
With this poem I was trying to emphasise just why I’d got distracted in my language choices. I hope it doesn’t come across as being a bit pretentious. Especially if you know the view! But those seagulls really did look like someone had drawn them in and the sky seemed inconsistent in it’s colour, like a child’s drawing when they’ve got tired of colouring and just left bits blank or slightly less blue than other sections. In terms of weather, for me there are few better days than a crisp, bright, blue-skied Autumn day. There’s something about the way the light falls and the subtle tones in the sky and the trees that make them very special and I really wanted to convey that in a better way than just saying how blue and cold it looked.
Distraction in general is a constant feature of my life. It has been since childhood and I would still say that there are portions of every day where I’m in a world of my own, not ignoring people but distracted. It might be thinking of things to get in the supermarket, an upcoming football match, a passing aeroplane…literally anything, I’m that vacant! Alternatively though, I might just have lines in my head for the introduction to a blog or a stanza of a poem. Whatever it is I think it’s the bane of my wife’s life given the amount of instructions she is forced to repeat to me.
Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture. It was bad enough that I drifted off for a few minutes of the lesson. I think reaching for my phone and taking a picture would have been a little too rude. So, I hope the poem does the view and the afternoon justice. By all means let me know what you think in the comments.