At evening, as the fires lit
The hillsides with their gathered glow
And told their stories to the stars,
She ate her bread with curds and figs,
And stared off through the olive groves
And out towards the distant sea:
The salt of land upon her tongue,
The memories of her journeys done.
This land was never hers to taste.
The burning herbs, which spat and danced
And filled the sky with resin smoke,
Would blow as dust before the dawn,
When she would take the northern road,
And leave these hillsides’ burning lights.
Above the tree line of the soul,
Where air is thin and minds can float,
She sparks her memory, speaks her loss.
She moves through pastures draped in blooms.
And there she lives her ghostly life,
She watches shadows cast on clouds
Which gather on the valley floor.
She knows the turn and flow of things.
But further up, beyond her gaze,
The bells of cattle ring the peaks,
The gentians stain the petaled sky,
The crystals carve the rainbow’s curve.
Her soul awaits the season’s change,
With buttermilk and waterfalls.
Those eyes, which take the souls and run
From hedge to far and vanished hedge,
Can pierce right through the skin of time,
And see its luminescent depths.
With unmatched speed and dancing heart,
A spirit dreamer, cast from minds,
Runs out across the plains and moors.
It runs not “to”, it runs “because”.
They watch us with our weighted gait:
Our feet, our arms, our thoughts in clay.
So slow, we live within a day:
A single, monstrous, leaden day.
They watch us with those eyes of light,
Those eyes which see beyond our sight.
They shook the mountain caves at night,
They broke the boulders, cracked the cliffs,
They mocked the flags on sunrise snow,
They howled around the prayer wheels.
Then far beyond the mountain’s pull
A gentle chant, the plateaux’s thought,
Was caught in clouds and spiralled up
To join the Karakoram’s breath.
They stopped a while to hear the chant,
Put down their knives of Yengisar.
Then, furrow-browed, they went on back
To breaking wilderness and peace.
For all their noise, they heard the change:
They sensed the myths had rearranged.
The simple contact of the stream,
A touch of ice which fell as rain
And soaked the paws of hunting wolves.
A mix of mists condensed on ferns.
The breath of trees through ancient leaves
Which hid a thousand goshawk nests,
And oaks on oaks have hidden more,
And added streams to other streams.
Around the fish the waters flow,
And through the water spectrum’s bend,
And in those prisms histories meld,
And through those pasts the fish still breathe.
I run my fingers through the stream,
And all is now, and always was.
She spent her life apart from folk,
And all her dreams were river dreams.
She watched the weed which hid the pike.
She crept through rushes by the streams.
As winter drew the evenings in,
She’d bend the willow, thread the sedge,
And sleep beneath the branches bowed,
As warm as otter, curled as mink.
On mornings, white with frost and snow,
She’d break the ice which formed in rings
Up by the bank where water’s slow,
And find the haunts of torpid trout.
She’s spent her life – and spends it still –
In river dreams, in drifting free.
They dragged me from the peat at night.
Untied my hands, my feet, my soul.
They washed me, cleaned me, dried my eyes.
They took my braiding, took my sword.
I’d lain between the worlds untouched,
I’d spoken with the dead and proud,
I’d walked the path and swum the lake,
I’d soaked my blood in veins of earth.
They wrenched my body from its ghost,
They stripped it, left it hanging on,
Awoke it from its spirit sleep,
Displayed it as a trophy scalp.
I reach to try to catch your mind.
You stare, repulsed, but don’t respond.
You lead me through the lives of stars,
Encircle all who wish to see.
You slip through time, you link and bind.
You light the deep and endless blue.
Your revelations never cease:
On moonless nights you show the way;
In caves your luminescence shines;
On forest floors you mark the trails.
You hold me as I fall apart,
And cradle all my fading sparks.
You gather up the thoughts of me,
And place them on the tops of trees.
Your light, which flows through every point,
Connects me to the flux of life.
linked up to the great: Poets United
Above the hills and northern dales,
Above the outcrops on the moors,
Above the mists and passing rains,
Above the senses and the dreams,
It saw the world for what it was.
It smoothed the waters, rocks and flames.
It watched the changing, watched the lulls.
It wrapped the world and lungs it filled.
It quivered with the wings of birds,
It gathered all their voices up,
It kept them for the sun to breathe,
It kept them for the stars to grieve.
Above the beauty of the skies,
Above the tales, above the lives.