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Nature’s Grenade

9 July 2005

Nature’s Grenade

Candida Clark

Before we drove back to London ­
It was evening, late June, Dorset ­
We walked through the valley
Where breath came rising from seas
Of tall grass and the bracken grew curling
In licks like flames ­ we had to fight through;
A soft fight; the flames were waves ­
To get to a far point, bang in the thick of it,
Where, by the stream, there was a place to stop.
The bracken stayed rising, birds were in the high trees.
The night before, there had been a night-jar,
And we’d sat on a log to listen.

We found the spot, and you bent to pick up something
That seemed to have been cast off. You put it in my palm
Before I could see it. I shut my eyes.
It was the precise shape of a hand-grenade,
The weight not far off, the texture almost true;
Cold, too, and sticky as though held too long
Through nerves, or indecision, before being chucked ­
At just the right moment to cause maximum creation:
Nature’s grenade; a cedar cone. They take three years to make.
The thing is on my desk right now.
It's my favourite gift from you ­
The sap oozing, the scent rising, the life waiting.

Today, wishing myself back beneath that tree,
I read how Solomon, building the temple,
Asked Hiram, King of Tyre,
For Cedars from the forests of Lebanon.
The wood transplanted, the motive went full circle -  ­
Religion running always after life.

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Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

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Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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