I have been unwell. These are some poems written during a period of deep anxiety. I hope you get something from them.
You were still a girl
when you set out
believing in nothing
but your arms, the pull of oars
and the small islands beyond the bay,
promising, absolutely promising
you’d be safe
and not go too far
in the weathered boat.
You rowed without thought
the light rain, at first
delighting your skin
before the sky’s battering
brought down a mauve blanket
in front and behind your blinded eyes.
And you thought of the Ark,
of granny looking out from the shore,
how water can be as heavy as a burial
how a touch of rain can be a prophesy,
even when a moment – a lifetime – ago,
you did not believe.
And what promises mean
and your lack of plans.
Then there’s the rocking and jerk and tip
and suck of cold.
You don’t remember
the speedboat that brought you back
that, at first, your granny believed
could only be bad news
or of the moment after letting go
to nature, chance, God, whatever.
He warned of the fires
that would rip at the mountainside
and spill into town
where the buildings were ready to burn.
The weather had been ugly hot
the eucalyptus on the hills like tinder.
The government didn’t do much
and the locals were asleep.
There was an arsonist on the loose
and the lazy firefighters on strike.
This island would never learn.
It deserved everything it got.
But last night, I woke
to the rain’s whispering fall.
Sometimes everything is set
yet nothing happens.
Sometimes A Hill (A semi-found poem)
There is no universal definition of a mountain. Elevation, volume, relief, steepness, spacing and continuity have been used as criteria for defining a mountain.
In the Oxford English Dictionary, a mountain is defined as a “natural elevation of the earth surface rising more or less abruptly from the surrounding level and attaining an altitude which, relative to the adjacent elevation, is impressive or notable”.
Sometimes a hill
The eleven largest countries without a ‘mountain’ are The Gambia, Kuwait, Moldova, The Netherlands, Uruguay, Guinea-Bissau, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus.
Sometimes a hill is
The highest point in The Netherlands is 321 metres and is shared by Belgium and Germany
Sometimes a hill is sad
Het Hogeland (The High Country) in the North, near Groningen is only a few metres higher than the surrounding land.
Sometimes a hill is sad that
In Phoenix, Arizona, there are hills called Camelback Mountain and South Mountain.
Sometimes a hill is sad that it
In Mississippi one day, a teacher told his primary school kids about Mount Everest. One of the kids asked him what a mountain was. He tried explaining that it’s like a huge pile of rocks that’s bigger than anything they’d seen, and one kid raised a hand and said ‘so, it’s bigger than a car?”.
Sometimes a hill is sad that it is not
In Lithuania, the words for ‘hill’ and ‘mountain’ are pretty much interchangeable. And a mountain can be called a mountain if it has something of interest on top, like a fort or monument.
Sometimes a hill is sad that it is not a
In Latvia, a mountain is almost anything that you need to put noticeable effort to walk onto. It’s highest peak is Mount Gaizins at 311 metres.
Sometimes a hill is sad that it is not a mountain
And, while Denmark proper is relatively flat, the Danish Crown owns Greenland (which has mountains).
Sometimes a mountain is sad that it is not a hill
So we get to where we get to
turn around to look how far we’ve come
along the ridge.
We can still just make out the café
where we had lunch a long time ago.
The buzzard in the chrome blue sky
tells that this is where we got to
last time, when the walking
was far easier
when there was somewhere else to get to
and the buzzard told of more
than its circling.
I was trying not to think about anything
every time my mind went blank
and telling myself I was allowed
to think about anything
and that I shouldn’t panic
if I thought about anything scary
or if my mind went blank.
Then I thought about nougat
which is odd
because I don’t particularly like nougat
or dislike it.
I have no memory associated with nougat
except the banal association
that it gets stuck between your teeth.
So perhaps it is a metaphor.
But that didn’t seem to strike true
so I thought about it some more
and could imagine
the long pink boxes of nougat
we sometimes bring back from Finland
that are quite nice
but nothing to write home about.
And that’s about it.
So I’m still thinking about nougat
and why I thought about nougat
and not getting very far.
The White Table
Instead of starting your day
you might just want to head out
into the garden
where a spider waits on thought
and the white table is dusted with leaves
that have fallen in the night.
From there, barefoot on the grass
dare to look up at who knows
what freightless birds
travel without you across
the immeasurable sky. Then
down, then feed the cat.