Anna Smith-Spark

Stone places

Willow beds in a flat land,
A boat pushes through rushes,
Crossing a salt marsh in sunshine,
In darkness, in rain, as a child.
A little girl runs across the rough grass,
The scream of the sea in a night,
The sea breaking; bright lights in the harbour; looking.
Overrun of everything known into some otherness,
Opened eyes, opened mouth, drowning, identity.
Aeroplane sound through windows rushed with clouds:
God, it stinks of summer, even as I'm writing it.
Church bells toiling the half-hour like verdigris,
Onrush of time inwards, the pressure-cooker of this memory.
Later we can see stars on a hot night,
Hear rain pouring down as we shake in sickness,
Damp walls damp bed, rutting on the floor like mice,
Water running like veins, upwards.
A moth beats against the light.
I watch through smeared glass,
Running, running, with gold in your hair,
Foam breaking, the rocks like words,
Taste of salt of everything,
The water shining, twisted, reflected,
The sheen on it like skin.
Tomorrow we walk miles across country,
Cows grazing in a womb-curved field,
Horses running, teeth bared, wild like gingerbread,
Small sheep foraging on scrubland at the summit,
Their wool caught on the hedging, matted clumps like joke moustaches.
We could sleep here, this is a good place for dragons.
Higher up cloud comes down over the headland,
The damp silence cuts off everything in whiteness—
Unreal horizon, closed down, only this exists here,
Shut in to this, this circle of being-non-being,
Disorientation like kettle steam.
At the summit of everything is disorientation.
We stop by a barrow stone to watch the summer slide past us,
Broken ones, burnt heather, sea birds:
By the end, it is as cold as dying.
I swim in cold water, breathing deep, air sharp as gorse.
In the evening we gather bleached driftwood and shingle stones,
Pressing their smooth dead eggs against our eyes,
This is a pretty pebble, this is a pretty pebble,
This is a hagstone (we'll have no witches here),
This placental lump is worn brick,
Traced, fossilized, the remains of something forgotten.
The air smells of the sun fading,
Everything reaching out with living,
Luminous, dusty, mournful, filled with peace.