By: Marion Horton
I come up here to think.
The burn on my legs,
As my muscles heave me up the steep slope,
Keeps me earthed, focussed.
It reminds me that whatever else
I am alive, tellurian.
I bring my snags and doubts.
Sometimes they are heavy –
They wring the blood from my fingers
And turn them white.
But not today.
Today, I barely feel their weight.
Today my chest feels light and
The blue sky tells me to breathe.
The ancient mounds of grassland
With purple thistle and yellow vetch
Hold me firm and safe.
It is time, they say.
I shake the battered holder of my past,
The handle flaked and worn against my hand,
And hear the roll and rattle
Of my last few fears.
Eyes closed I launch it all into the air,
Flinging it as hard and high as strength allows.
All is still,
I hear no bump, no roll,
Just a gentle song of wind against my ears.
When I look
I see the distant clump of beeches
Winking in the sun,
Bright white curves of chalky paths,
The panorama of the weald,
And know that I am free.
Once the view wrapped all around.
Left and right, front and back,
up and down.
Once limbs of oak stood thick upon the ground,
and forests grew an honest shape
on land untamed.
Our necks would crane to take it in,
the neverending dream of sky
where tiny birds would
stitch their way across the blue
and cumuli would drift and bounce
or feather sweep and fly.
And on and on we’d see.
But now we turn and knock our heads
against a frame of Modern day.
The picture shrinks,
no room to crane as
canvas gasps and cracks and
weak-boned hands attempt
a futile push to stretch
the vista wide.
In time, there’ll be no landscape for the eye –
just fragments in reliquaries and shrines.
I would like to leave myself.
No longer be what I know as me.
To crawl out of this frame,
escape the aches and only ifs,
I’d drag the rubber over
the scribbles and the crossings out,
the jumble of ideas and plans
that sometimes worked, but often not,
and wipe the board to virgin black.
So when we’re standing face to face
I’m faceless. Blank.
You’d reach your hand,
or would you flinch?
Too scared to touch
Not at the end, but at the start.
I’d search until I found a bridge
to somewhere new.
The water singing on the rocks,
would whisper through the salted boards,
as on I’d walk above the tide,
whilst down below coiled shells
would glow their iridescent sheen
and cast me in a nacreous hue.
Walk on, they’d call,
until you reach another shore.