Alice Willington: Carsaig
Alice Willington: II
We are still talking by the frozen field.
You tell me about your children,
I tell you the path to the sky wood.
I am not quite ready to open my eyes.
We have slipped through tricks of sleep
as if we shuffled branches and roots
and came face up. Nothing happens.
We speak reassurance to each other,
our boots are mindful of the farrows.
I look at the cloud and open my eyes.
You are nowhere on the snow ceiling.
I rest quiet – I have walked too far.
The Old Fishmonger’s
Black pans hang from the restaurant ceiling
like mussels, lips pursed
at the crests of speech.
I turn back to my plate
while my father expounds on oratory,
a tide at the full.
More wine is poured,
the crystal releases a singing
heard first from glass bowls
in my grandparents’ house,
their soundings kept lidded,
talk stilted in sand.
Now glasses ring, antiphon
to the ropes of pebble and shell
waving like seaweed in the window.
The mussels open their slippery eyes
to the surf of human voices.
They do not drown.
I have been sitting here so long
the lights discern no life.
They go to sleep,
darkness falls in a click.
The white grey screen without glimmer
illuminates only itself.
It is the silence of snow at night
outside on the gravestones, benches and beggars,
as if an old man sat down to rest
and died, and neither he nor anyone
noticed, his body still there
wrapped in muffler and hat.
No one knows I am here or absent.
Traces of me are on the screen,
but as I stretch to switch off
its black is lichen over engraving.
The lights see me and open
and shut and open again.
(The Volcanic Arches)
. The sound of it, adrift
. Some places the name marks
a field of sheep
. or a lochen
. in between a mountain’s peaks,
a house with half a roof
and a broken wall, the grate
. still there,
the wind blowing through the syllables.
Carsaig four miles from the road,
basalt which refuses the erosion of its words,
. the eternal return
of echoes to the waves.
I walked through the arches and knew
in a short while I would be gone,
. flung back