Small Steps, Big Difference, by Gail Golding

The cormorant, a lord watching over its manor, perches on a cream-coloured chimney pot on the old brick warehouse. It curves and twists, swivels its neck compass-angles, side-eye watching for movement. Its gaze snakes through iron gas pump pillars, filigreed together like loose-black lace. And slides under the orange copper digger. The digger, a foot seeking its next step, swinging, shifting, feeling out a path, picking up dry dusty earth between its toes.

The cormorant, steel grey against blue, blinks its eye as the Golden Drummer below beats red sticks against a tin drum while a tree-bound bird rhythmically calls – like a rocking chair squeaking against a wooden polished floor.

‘Small steps, big difference’ the cormorant calls, the soft breeze carrying its message across the water to my boat, ‘The Cheeky Chappy’, its mirror-like self shimmering, shaking, shivering below.

‘Small steps, big difference’ the pond echoes back, the still water peppered with rose and green seed-specks, flown from plants extending life. Roots, like thick, green snakes wind their way to the surface, claw-like tips drawn to the sun.

‘Small steps, big difference’ the air breezes. A tiny snow-white feather clings to a branch, brushes against bulging buds, bursting from leafy skin, surrounded by curled, frilled leaves. Leaves thrilled to point the forward path while the tap tap tapping of a metal-chinking hammer joins the choir with the laughing duck.

The cormorant, watching all this, pierces its glance on the trains that snake in and out of the gold and platinum glass-domed roofs forming magic pictures. ‘Rainbows are red, orange, yellow, green, indigo and violet’ the long blue worm-like train calls. Working rainbow orange-clad men, tiny in the distance, beaver and burrow in the brown earth while green polonium cranes stretch into the sky, plucking powdered reds, blues, indigos, scrunched under ground by history’s feet.

‘Small steps, big difference’ the cormorant squeals watching over the tiny green space on the canal’s banks – among the machine-churned earth where caramel-coloured bricks shoot up from the ground.

‘Small steps, big difference’ it whispers before it lifts its dark wide wings and swoops to where eye-popping frogs slink into the pond, the watery rings spinning outward and outward until they fade.

It’s time to pull in the rope from the thick lead stump, turn on the engine and pull My Cheeky Chappy away.

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About claire collison

Writer, photographer, creative facilitator, and breast cancer survivor, I am currently Artist in Residence at the Women's Art Library (WAL) My first novel was a finalist in the Dundee Book Prize, and my short stories and poetry have appeared in print and online. In 2015 I was awarded second place in the inaugural Resurgence Prize, the world's first eco poetry competition, judged by Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. This blog began as a space for words generated on my walking/writing workshops at the Mary Ward centre in Bloomsbury - Writing the City (WTC). WTC has since grown to include many other venues, including the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Barbican, the River Rom, Southwark Woods, Aylesbury Estate, and most recently, as part of Walking Women festival, An Intimate Tour of Breasts. I have worked with Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, as the recipient of the first Max Reinhardt Literacy Award, designing teaching resources; and for The Photographers' Gallery, helping school children develop visual literacy as part of 'Seeing More Things'. If you would like me to design a workshop or walk for you, please be in touch!
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