Word-sketches written down quickly in a notebook while wandering alone over mountains and moors.
Ascending its stylite pillar
The skylark burns like the morning star
Marooned in endless sweet song,
Like a town-crier proclaiming
From a long scroll unrolling
The mirth of sun at sight of earth,
The joy of life to live,
As if all the day itself
Were singing this song.
[A short snatch of the skylark's song, 237 Kb]
Another’s world, Isle of Skye
At the isolated croft,
Thatched roof, horseback brown,
A pasty-faced old man is led away
By the district nurse to her car.
He looks at me with awful fear in his eyes,
A stranger coming from the mire
Out of the dark cold smirr of rain
Like ghosts have come before.
Now he's too old, too frail,
To rattle the shutters at tormentors,
Arm supported by a woman he doesn't know,
Carrying his small suitcase.
I step into his world after traipsing
Endless miles through a storm to arrive
Like something that has haunted him forever.
The high sun bears down,
Broom-pods crack open in the still heat.
The whole heath is creaking
Like the hull of a vessel
In calm yet cautious waters.
I sit by the lake
Listening to it lapping.
Down in the dale it is still a fine day,
The river snakes away below
Meandering through sunlit meadows
Seeping underhoof in fens.
The lane is hemmed in by buttercups and bramble,
Three suns mirrored in muddy puddles
Fresh burls of midges hover over.
Only sluggish ditches reviving
Flowing in the gullies give a hint
There is a storm in the mountains.
A pair of brimstone butterflies
Frolic in the sun-glint drizzle,
They seem to sense their last hour
Of frantic play over clover fields
Is fading with the rainbow.
Their flight simply seems to fail,
Like ribbons pulled off their spools.
Light drains out of the valley
As if a lid has been put on.
A thorn snags my jacket, holds me,
As the deluge begins.
From a rich seam of sudden sunlight shining
With endless gratitude I’m mining
Under the very nose of this mountain storm
The fleeting glee of feeling warm.
Looking for water in the hills
Boots squelching underfoot,
A dipper quick and quiet.
Claims its sodden habitat.
Then I hear it,
In the long grass.
The wind-break boulder
The boulder baking hot
From all day's sun,
Sitting behind it, sheltering
From the bitter gale that's come,
Chipping off lichen crust
A fingernail caking up
With mustard powder,
The sky a sagging soaked sheet.
Soon I must, I must go,
Stand up and face the journey
Over the hills I've still to go.
I will, I will start out soon,
Bow my head to the sleet.
Just one more handful
Of this boulder's store
Alone with my thoughts, Friday afternoon on the hillside
A column of wood smoke rises stately
High above the pine plantation
On the sunny side of the valley,
The quarry scooped out of the dale
Like a dollop of trifle.
That's the bus down there
I'll catch tomorrow
Arriving on the dot
Outside the general store.
The weekend tents
Are already massing,
Lovers driving up in cars,
Families laying out their picnics,
There's my tiny tent all on its own.
No-one sees these tears,
No-one walks this way,
Tomorrow it will be teeming with people.
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