by James Graham
Posted: 02 August 2004
Word Count: 435
This is the road I wandered after school,
mapping the march-trees and the mossy dykes,
walking in water, taming a nodding horse,
dawdling to fright some jittery little fish
or monitor the heavy visiting bees.
The span of beauty is too great for us,
the green excess of earth, its April blood.
But once upon a brief, long age I lived
nomadic summer days, a make-believe
prehistory governed by the sun.
My pioneers had travelled every trail
and settled every plain. Their calendar
was frost and the returning rose; their pantheon
of field-sprites, gruesome or benign, was known
by hips and haws, or hardy thorns or geans
that lean away from seasonal westerlies.
You arrive at the city over soaring moors.
The landmarks are white steadings, lighthouse-stark.
You seem at the edge of a different sky, and then
there is a land beyond the sky: the broad
electric meadow of the city, under the early stars,
its amber blossoms everywhere, sparse only far away
by the western ocean or the hills. I have no name
for the colours of the hills: not green,
not blue; they are the colour, I suppose,
of hillsides grassed and gorsed and marvelled at
in failing light, on this one night, a cool
rose-grey, a darkening rose. Apartment blocks
surround the college towers, like giants
that have wandered down from the romantic glens
and stand amazed. And I have seen
the water-meadows of this city too, sham tarns
that never heal, beaches for half-wild children
toying with paid-out audiotape and wrecks
and trademarked jetsam; and the apartment blocks,
cracked-windowed crates through which they squeal
with the scrawny timelessness of gulls. In the city's
scrambled heart, an old man crowned with a trampled hat
is fiercely pedalling. Beard like a mouse's nest,
he rides four lanes of motors. Presently his soft bag
quickens, and a black cat scales his dangerous shoulder,
rocking, goat-sure, tail like a pennon. I am native here
among the monuments to famous men
whose labour forces built the money-towers,
whose fighting forces have made desolation
out of cities such as this. I am aboriginal.
In autumn I stand at the ridge, the topmost
reach of my road, where the land falls away.
The nearer stands of grey or lichened beech
recede to distant blue, then the level sea.
In my head I hear the tide. Now ghosts
are gathering on this hill, I decide to think.
Stock-still in the sober gateway of death
they have lingered, looking back; like me
they cannot cease to see the drowsing sky,
the sweet horizon tipsy with bramble-mist.
|Favourite this work||Favourite This Author|
Other work by James Graham: