Time always has its say
but it doesn’t always have to get its way.
Though the seamless, rehearsed rocks were five
hundred million years in making, more recent chalk
scrawled “be happy.” Detached pieces
of lost Pennine, present forever yet shaped still
by sun and shower; varied barely by ice and gale; eroded
subtly by my faint feet. It helps me
tell myself there’s no such thing as permanent, when
I come to lay griefs at the mouth of the sphinx
whose riddle I do not care to answer. Although
there is no signal here, I think you know which way she’ll go.
I dreamt I’d nosedive into that bracken and,
when I did, I left a leg. If Brimham stones with mountains
of birthdays can wear my new-born blood loose
as crimson night cap, can’t timeworn words leak fresh?
I throbbed three days away, unsurprised by pop-up jackdaws
cawing in pity and slick-oiled plumage minus the menace.
Senseless places tell me: no such thing as sense and pain.
The sphinx and I should have aged more slowly but
it only took a rapid year to harden my head.
The latest failed king of this castle, today I lived just
long enough to duck being tomorrow’s loser.
There’s lush growth in gritstone ramparts. I wrote once
of confusion between blueberries and sloes but
it has to be bilberries where this one grows;
where I seek nutrition, it gets little but knows dirt will gather
and make the black scar crack a home. Even fronds
which failed to cushion my fall may just thicken
yet. There’s no such thing as defeat
when you’re silt in the long game.
An endless year need hold no further fear. Stunned souls
just chances for ignition in this place. In a straight line
from my eye a village, cathedral, port and numerous miles.
Distant specks of classic, gothic, soporific:
they have their own stories, heroes, villains, and none
means a thing or leaves a mark
on a place where there’s no such thing as present.
Is what I tell myself perpetual, as temporary vistas
gloss my days with
the new green gaze.
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© 2018 Matt Chamberlain
First appeared in ‘I remember the green gaze’
Drifter poet: from Lancashire to Wales to London to Kent; words a constant. Published pastoral-performance-page poet and festival laureate.