A place named for nothing,
a nothing, a space
in a spine of hills,
a great scoop of sky
in a green spoon, a doorway
from east to west.
A place with a past
before history started.
Think the river back,
the giant whose bed
you stand in. It would run
where the skuas balance
between two hills,
where air pours
in place of water.
Something was here,
now nothing is. Nothing
fills the eye,
the colour of weather,
Who knew nothing
could be such a landmark?
From the North Sea,
sailing up this coast,
bays blur; nesses flatten out,
it's hard to tell
But no one can miss
the gap, the emptiness
that signs its name
across landscape, sky,
that draws the fancy
like a window, or rather
the space in a ruined wall
where a window was.
Rules of Conversation: Hoswick
Unless actually raining, it is a fine day
and must be remarked on, lest the gods
of weather, affronted, take the sun away.
All objects, except boats, are masculine:
shears, watches, nails. I dunna mind
where I left him, but he's no' workin'.
Don't ask where people live. It's where
do you stay? Our tenancy
in the world is a transitory matter.
Sometimes, after a storm, sand shifts,
stones are flung aside, and a skull
stares out, or a framework of ribs
startles with its whiteness. Whole villages
have come back: hearths, stone tables,
even the shelves built into their walls.
Captured then, before they could resume
the skin they left on the rocks, they live
in our light, all their arrangements,
oil lamps, loom weights, open, like a bombed house,
its front wall gone, forced to display
carpets and wallpapers to public view.
The one nearby, though, was more slippery.
A layer of rock slid away from a shape
two thousand years old; it was photographed,
but the cliff lurched again and took back
this brief acquaintance, the neighbour who called in
just once, and whom we never got to know.