No 18 - September 2002
In A Far Country
for Jane Routh
|If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.|
- Thoreau. Walden
Inside the tree, the original cell of wood before the invention of the window, and daylight.
Unpainted wooden table, wooden walls, wooden floor - and the wooden arm rests of the chair.
Around the cell (the acorn) the streaming of the river that passes through everything solid and spacious ... and the wind.
Between gusts, the sheep crying on the hillside.
Outside, the sharpened scythe.
And through the silence, slowly… the miraculous echo of an aeroplane like a kite string and an umbilicus - trailing out to the world.
The sky is full of branches, of green thrust up. And how to clear the shadow for the longed-for light when (as we discover) the major culprit is a young oak?
A young oak stands in the way - what’s that?
And I am stunned by the old curse. You can’t cut an oak.
Suddenly I am silently given my place again.
Twilight, late summer light: and I am walking from an ornate desk high above a city square to this rough workshop trestle table here.
And as I sat there, I was suddenly here, and the river was below me in its endless fluid echo. And words came, wanting to be a poem, on the suspended screen of the air.
Ahead of us, on the last stretch as we walk, a barking deer.
And as we closen, Saturday night music, invisibly from the village, or closer, and surprisingly loud.
And finally the river through the small opening window, with or without our witnessing.
It does not matter.
It is. And it is everything.
Item: a stone from the river beach - a perfect downwards-pointing heart in pale sandy-coloured white surrounded by a swathe of beige quartz lines. Reversed, or inverted, it becomes a pyramid.
Item: a second stone from the beach (that you found) with its rich dark strata of line suggestive of African cloth.
Item: a sparrowhawk’s feather: its brown and white stained markings that could somehow only be a bird of preys. You held it up to my questioning gaze with a metallic glint in your eyes.
Final item: a strip of colour matched blue paints, with one made up in a small pot to cover the table with.
Spring Kissing, Hopscotch, Constellation, Splish Splash. They linger like fragments peeled from the sky.
Sun brightens through the swaying leaves. My multi-coloured free Boots Special Offer watch boasts the time.
There is no internal decor the colour of emptiness. Not even the dark hooded moth that has secreted itself inside the window frame.
Only the breath.
Transformed from solitude into solitude, the displacement of the spread newspapers underneath the table drawn forward, the brown blanket you sat outside on grass-stained and unfolded, and these added things... settle in the morning wind.
The table glows sky blue in the shadows, and then leaf-dappled sunlight begins to dance along its fringes.
I touch it up to make it a permanent glad blue.
Tabula rasa: a piece of unadulterated heaven.
And then I weed the sandy gravel chip path as it dries, pulling out clumps of grass, extending it four feet back towards you.
And I remember the streaks of blue that got caught in the crown of my hair as I stopped that you noticed, as you picked and cleaned them out like fleas.
And his, the Lord Buddha’s blue hair, as he sits in his golden sculpted skin, cross-legged, transcendent.
He and you and I - and all that lies between.
Come back to naturalness, unforced, time, unhurried, the breath, unrushed.
What is it? Not just the river, or its sound, but the pace of its moving.
Its true sound. Its sound truly heard. Intercut with the sheep.
Heard for its duration. At any moment. Its length filling with water.
What is that? Emptiness filling. The ether of its shape...
And where am I then? In it, and in myself, simultaneously.
Essentially. Of the essence.
I let go, and fell (and I came here).
Leaving enough gaps for silence and emptiness between the words
Returning to silence, the river also comes back
(It was as if I was no longer hearing it)
… and fills the page ‘with the true invisible ink of its naming’
I come back too, as I am - and as you would. And that is not an event that takes place in words.
Any more, in truth, than our love-making.
But, continue ...
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The