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This is a poem about how scientists once used respectful and loving language about nature, but then hostile language emerged and scientists still dare not use a word like 'love' - as explained in this quote by the amazing and wise philosopher Mary Midgley: ‘Highly emotive Baconian hostile imagery about nature was counted as scientific and therefore belonging to the language of Reason, while affectionate and respectful imagery such as Ficino used was dismissed as mere sentiment. This ruling still persists and accounts for the fact that no Western scientists after Kepler’s time could ever dare use terms such as love for forces of attraction, though today equally anthropomorphic – but hostile – words such as spite, cheat, selfish and grudging are the accepted coin of sociobiological discourse.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, 2003

If It Is Not Love

Gillian_ferguson_photo_high_resby Gillian K Ferguson05 Aug 2013

What is this feeling towards the swollen Sun -
bulging gold with the light of a whole summer,

membranous globe slung low on ropes of wine-blue cloud:
one touch to her yolk, she will pour forth on broken water.

What moves the heart to lurch at the Chinese sight
of a hunchback cormorant fishing in salmon blood,

a melancholic curlew picking snobbishly among
mother-of-pearl - when he sings, every sad thing

sweetens my mind. What shared disturbance of nerves
with a golden hare rocking neurotically across burned

orange fields, scattering nurseries of laughing rabbits,
twitching air for a smidgeon of fox, eagle - lost wolf.

If it is not love,
if it is not love.

What is this thrill in the evening heart
at first blurred owl called by first star

into milky light - his weird throating call
half from another always-twilight world;

the Moon’s perfect luminous pearl as night’s shell
hardens blue to black - to a glittering complexion.

What sympathy with the red screams
of mice; hypnosis of the dancing fox,

mesmerising slinky stoat; a co-incidental
rustling moonlit ruffle of snuffly badgers,

twinkling hedgehogs. Flickering bats
strobing the Moon in a high bravura,

aerial performance of dark sky theatre;
like Gothic swallows. Crashing moths.

What startles in our creature eyes?
What silence stops our own hearts,

hunger rumbles in a dusted scarlet pang?
What sews our old blood? Solders bones.

If it is not love,
if it is not love.

When light flowers in the morning sky -
and each bloom has cupped a silver drop

in opening eyes like a single tear -
mercury memorial for each creature

which died that night violently for life.
Tiny philosopher birds flute fresh notes

solely for the natural art of song:
just because it’s another morning.

Earth is a breathing black mouth
where green tongues speak secret

chemistries of water, seed and light.
I touch the pink rose’s human skin,

bending, kiss her perfumed lips -
what is this light seen in my eyes:

if it is not love,
if it is not love.