2013 in photos: British Isles

sunset island

On an island, I looked for other islands:
smaller, emptier, round as up-turned

bottomless boat

coracles barnacled to the shore.
I watched yachts catch the only sunlight

sailboat before a storm

and thought of prized, greenstone axeheads
sunk in ceremonial lakes.

swans in the waves

Smaller and smaller my longing grew
until it could almost fit in a watery pocket.

moorhen nest 2

And yet these islands could not be kept:
they were Holy Islands, they were bird islands,

sunset island 2

they were columns of cooled magma,
they were the skulls of ancestors

rock art

who had been killed three times—
once each for sky, land and water.

gasworks at sunset

Here are their collars of bog iron,
their round houses roofed with turf.

potholes

This is a country almost without stoplights.
At each intersection, a traffic island

Mudge clock

that can only be circled in one direction
like the stars wheeling about Polaris.

crop circle beside West Kennet Long Barrow

Riding across the Salisbury Plain, I soon got lost.
Millennia from now, archaeologists will say

Avebury stones 19

How hungry for a glimpse of other worlds
these islanders must’ve been
!

7 Comments


  1. Wonderful writing; wonderful photos. From the sublime to the picniculous.


    • Thanks. (Love “picniculous.”) I knew I was sabotaging a semi-serious ending by inserting that photo there, but I couldn’t help it — it just said so much to me about the British. :)


  2. Thanks for the kind comments. For what it’s worth, the poem came first (three eight-line stanzas), though I had a couple of the photos in mind as I wrote.

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