Now, the land is pieced together;
varying shades of lime, dark fern, soft
heather; gorse, lichen, dog rose; white
sky bends in the middle, sometimes
I look over & see the hills softly
eclipse, dividing the earth into
bits beneath the red of the heart,
a hammer coming down in the dark
thatch beneath day but is this light –
tipping up the slope cattle stand; their
shapes look strong yet uncertain
in the morning haze.
Silver clouds swim steadily
bellies like basking sharks. Mouths
sift grit beneath a surface;
silt from the furnace. Thin as coal dust.
If I were to call your name now –
here, where the foxgloves grow:
bold streaks of laughter or the pause
as they flicker, purple flames leap
out of white sand. You stood by the window
watching the blush of a bullfinch,
fluffy & shy he hid within the dark blue
enclosure: that song calls now
chirruping up the grass
looks delighted though day is shaking,
sky moves sugared blues to indigo
chimes in the wind; trees blackened;
they have lived a bright
life & now their death startles
this eye’s shimmering:
soft green wisps wind over & over
glossily snake into dry bark;
wasps hum in the doorframe in & out
they move inside the lock;
their boom a storm whooping
across Budleigh Salterton.
Fisherman stand in their long black boots
rods cast out through great frills.
Or a river circles
the day in one swift gesture;
twilight of otters –
they appear as though in dream,
dark eyes glistening.
Ghosts climb the hill. Feathered
grasses loose & light. They shake gold
the height of each blade moves up.
Do we keep walking? Yes. We do.
On & on until the cliff path ends
& we stand at the vertical drop looking down.
A heron in the midst; talk of the Jurassic
& she talks of a poem about a heron
perfect poem about a heron –
It vanishes. Waves rip, collapse in.
Over the hill we walked up past
blackening brambles, looped long
the thorns slanting down at angles;
the clear day opened over the green.
And we saw the brick houses
again and again in a semi-circle with white
trimmed windows; there were two children
jumping on a trampoline, the sound
of a woodpecker tapping in the tree.
Behind, two dogs rushing up in greeting
the owner with a downturned face walked
on; her hair trailing off towards the bracken
where we stooped to see the dandelions
jagged leaves; and how we blew their clocks and how
your hand stretched out cool with lucidity
as the light hit the university –
the thought of the cathedral a dark rising
hope over there where the hills move up again
and the roads wind across vast distances; the earth as red
as any heart; the water glimmering now
the memory of flood a long forgotten dream; the silt
resting against the riverbed, the trees reflected
in a silvery sheen; our voices call out to each
other; our cheeks rest against the other’s cheek –
the sheep stand whitely and the lambs spill
to the hands of shepherds who understand
their bloody entrances and blooming deaths
rinsing the red from thin fleeces before
turning back towards the estuary; the lapping
sound of the water’s thought; she said there
were seahorses in Kingsbridge, their muddy
tails clutch at eelgrass inside the current
that pulls us out again, like a tangled exhalation,
or the thought of this landscape replayed in sleep –
like a town with no windows or the soft drag
of a plane, bird bright, streaming over.