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

Thursday, 18 February 2016

prose poems from guest contributors: 7 Robert Wilkinson

Robert Wilkinson will be familiar as an occasional guest blogger to regular readers of this site. His own blog, The Solitary Walker, charts his own many literal and metaphorical journeys (he's walked the Camino 7 times, astonishingly).

Robert has had two volumes of poetry published — Raining Quinces and Light Breaksand is now working on a book on walking and the Camino.

The prose poem below was written when Robert was walking the Southwest Coastpath.* I particularly like the repeated rhetorical questions inviting us to think on our own purpose for walking, and the fact that each of the quatrains/paras is subtly different in tone.


To where does it lead, this walking? Past sea-lashed stacks and blocky towers of granite, shattered into cubes, to wind-bashed headlands drenched in spume and spray. Through lush-green tunnels of feathery tamarisk, humid as the tropics, wet-warm as rainforests, dripping with hart's tongue ferns and frothy with meadowsweet.

To where does it lead, this walking? I cling to crumbling cliff-top paths on the friable margin between rock and ocean. Here both land and sea engage in tumultuous conversation: an earthy, salty, airy discourse they've been playing out for eons and will do so for eternity. There is such wildness on this Atlantic edge: the surge and suck of sea water in coves, crash and roar of waves on rock, blown spindrift and beached debris of mussels, crabs' legs, beer cans, plastic.

To where does it lead, this walking? This is the cormorant's path, the gannet's way, the corridor of peregrine and raven, domain of chough and oystercatcher. Here are dunes as high as hills, soft with sand and spiky with marram grass. Here are fulmars, wings stiff as iron, flung by the wind then shearing through it, riding the updrafts just feet from my face.

To where does it lead, this walking? To a megalith, finger of slate, riddle of rock, pointing skyward. To the bright eye of pimpernel, scarlet as flame. To a focused hawk, hanging on the wind: still point of frozen fire. These are my lodestars and runic markers, my questions and answers, my longing and release wrapped up in one.

© Robert Wilkinson

 * for which my sister has written the recent official guides.


  1. As a keen long-distance walker I very much relate to this exhilarating walk through words, making the whole experience of the changing land/seascape vividly present, here in my cool still study, itching to find my own walk through words, waiting for the second walk of today.
    I like the sibilants, the alliterations, the way the words reflect the walk in all its folding out, its rhythms and arhrythms, the feel and smell of the elements.
    Thank you Robert. And Roselle – I must look at your sister's guides.
    From Miriam (yet again!)

  2. I couldn't have put it better myself, Miriam. Thank you for what you picked out.


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