I walked by layered sea-rock strata
Up slip-stone tracks, copper-needled forest ways
Through remnant Cantabrian holm oak groves
And endless stands of Monterrey Pine
Thriving where black kites ride thermals, stopping time
Elsewhere clear cut, earth deep furrowed, air resinous
Or pine pitch cankered, defoliate, in dieback
Canicule, ola de calor: the world is burning
No hope, no horizon
But on the trail, the horizon is slate-blue sea
Distant turbines on Mount Oiz, dancing like Bergman’s newly dead
The caves, rocks, stacked biota of Ereñozar
I have found my elsewhere, my otherwise
Where music is what feelings sound like
Love will follow loss, love will follow grief
And there is always a cool breeze from the west
Around the curve, over the brow of the next hill
On my return, the place is in me, all over me
Like someone more there after a farewell embrace
A final kiss on the forehead
Animal totems scratched in original darkness
And I can’t forget the sea and the air at the Wind Comb
That caress, soothe and heal
Wash rid lies and complexity
Feel like home
(June 2019, after walking in the Basque Country, from Donostia-San Sebastián to Bilbao, and around Urdaibai. Thoughts shaped by the land and the sea, and things seen, heard and read at that time.)
Walk the Green Lane by the Adur
Sunburnt, pub-fed, watched by deer
Through midges, near sunset, warm day’s end
Garden warbler buzzes, grates, grumbles
Blackcap becomes loud and clear
Bullfinch whistles low in unflailed blackthorn
Turtle dove purrs in dead tree above scrub
Cuckoo flies fast and straight
Loveless nightingales sing the longest, into the night
White ermine, untroubled, on door edge
The moth, all life, at home, let be
Like the storks, returning
(May 2019, after time spent at the Knepp Estate, West Sussex, Europe’s biggest lowland rewilding site.)
Shell Gatherer combs the shore
For shells, stones and bones that catch the eye,
The ones that mean the most.
She places them on the wall
For us to take and hold,
Keeping the sea in our hearts and homes.
This land sings, welcomes, heals,
Oka, Oma, Orduña,
Holm and sessile, pasture and estuary,
Curlew, vulture and boar.
People in the city, the same faces cascaded down generations,
Are stranger to me now.
I ghost-walk through talk of family, food and football,
Unseen, like the cathedral beggar.
Dream-state detachment ends at the solstice,
As I return to those who see, hear and hold,
Home a place of knowing and caring,
Where the land’s song is muted.
(Written after a week spent in Urdaibai, Orduña and Bilbao, December 2018.)
Redshank close in,
Visible to naked eye,
White storm tide fierce, high.
Air, water, earth in rebellion.
Singular, raging beauty.
Here, now, early in the day,
I know that all I need
Is the sound of waves on sand,
Salt-sea breeze on warm skin,
Peace beneath the sand, and in the world above.
Later, a Levante-red sun will set
On that azure horizon,
And locals, in awe and appreciation,
(Playa de la Victoria, Cádiz.)
I know the way the light falls in this house,
How it feels that the light falls that way, then,
In each place, at different times and seasons.
Decades of moments in each corner, held in vertical time,
Layered moods and memories, accreted knowledge,
Like leaves that fall softly to make the forest floor.
Sound of birds, distant traffic, a plane,
Through open window.