On an island, I looked for other islands:
smaller, emptier, round as up-turned
coracles barnacled to the shore.
I watched yachts catch the only sunlight
and thought of prized, greenstone axeheads
sunk in ceremonial lakes.
Smaller and smaller my longing grew
until it could almost fit in a watery pocket.
And yet these islands could not be kept:
they were Holy Islands, they were bird islands,
they were columns of cooled magma,
they were the skulls of ancestors
who had been killed three times—
once each for sky, land and water.
Here are their collars of bog iron,
their round houses roofed with turf.
This is a country almost without stoplights.
At each intersection, a traffic island
that can only be circled in one direction
like the stars wheeling about Polaris.
Riding across the Salisbury Plain, I soon got lost.
Millennia from now, archaeologists will say
How hungry for a glimpse of other worlds
these islanders must’ve been!
7 Replies to “2013 in photos: British Isles”
Love this, Dave.
This is just beautiful.
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. :)
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.