from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Monday, 16 May 2011

the branscombe day

Six of us plus dog (plus northwesterly wind at my neck) gather at the gate to the path to the beach. Under the poplar: a huge rush of wind, a jostle and thrum as of wings. We stop talking, greet the day through the senses, receive the world. A sign advertising handmade wooden shepherds' huts on wheels. Benches girding trees. Cows, ginger black dun and red-and-white, calves at foot, newly-turned-out on lush pasture trudge bovine-bellowing towards the sea. Such depth of scent in the shade under the chestnuts trees, where the cattle must have lain in the dawn cool. A splash of ragged robin in the marsh-rushes, alkanet, yellow flag irises. Crossing the stream, dissonant pattern of steps on the wooden footbridge (under which later we'll shoo a young calf, escaped by stream to the wrong side of his herd's fence). Above on the hillside a sculpted man, arms thrown wide

breaking from leafy 
cover to the dazzle of
sun on sea

And all the shades of indigo borage-blue cobalt aqua steel jade olive platinum as clouds trail shadows, wind drags fingers, across the ocean. We settle where the little river dives beneath the pebble ridge to emerge just metres on at the sea

over the water
clouds come and go
come and go

To the west the red sandstone that belts the waist of Devon coast to coast. To the east the whiter cliffs – yellow sandstone? limestone? Can't remember – that lead to Lyme Bay. This stream: dividing and connecting (tadpoles, swallows skimming low)

the wash and thwack of waves

being Neruda's dark stone 
that the river bears away

A crow, picking along the tideline (R says they clean up the wilderness: thinking about tidying my life)... The horizon's curving straights – no beginning no end... wind skipping over the water. Salt wind, sun, on my face. Direct dazzle from ocean to retina to heart. And the wheels of words, of stone, that we make there on the strand.

This flint, a miniature : tidelines of rose ochre cream gunpowder flame rust soot – and then the hagstone, the holey one, amulet and talisman, the one the wind whistles through, just more matter than hole...

I wore that one I found with you (all those years ago)
a decade, maybe more, on that red cord round my neck
then hung it in my red van, to gather dreams and dust

and here's another: still more stone than not
but nothing is solid; not the rocks, not you, not me

on the cusp of being and becoming

if I could slip through this eye of stone

I am coming of age; there will be a time
when my atoms too decline, recycle 'me'
back into where I belong – this everywhere

This planet, spinning in space, third in line from the sun, laced and interlaced with its waters lands lives – the age of its day, its journey towards night.

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