Island Clearances

Looking west, over the brave waves, he took his voice, and stretched

Out a song in a language as close as possible

To the sea, to mingle with the shingle

Being shunted up along the beach, to explore

round stones, bleached bones, seaweed, fishbreed, egg of flesh and fowl,

Flotsam and jetsam scattered off ships, carried from distant

Places to indifferent spaces; to express

Love of this unplace. The gulls scream, wheeling,

Flocks of oystercatchers, an old movie look, flicker white to black,

Plovers together turn and catch a glint off the winking

Cusp of sun. Opulent tones of ochres purple the open hills.

A landscape

raped and haunted by losses. Glad to see them off, the wind remembers

People, trees, language to him more beautiful than tracery.

Words that held in the tone and tongue-tip the fierce red mosses,

Waterlogged, that don’t hold still long enough for simile. The fierce red

Fox, the ptarmigan, moving, changing colour, hidden.

Looking in the mirror of these words he sees a new

Reflected self, the old words dying with his out breath. The unforgiving

Barrenness of rock draws him like a lodestone to long for an undoing,

Reflesh the old words, end up there, bleached on the wind scattered sand,

There to resound.

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