Friday 15 October 2010

Eye Walk the Weald

Eye walk the Weald: path, hollow, abandoned highway, impassable in winter, bramble-bracken-deep in June. I carve myself into the earth, each step wearing it away, clagging it or cracking. I breathe the south-west wind. My bones are sandstone, my muscles clay. My blood is thick with iron. I shake my head and oak leaves fall. From the freckles on my arms, speckled butterflies take flight. The dandelions tick-tock my steps from stile to stile, from the meadow-burst of thistles, finches, to the wood, in stinkhorn fug and honeysuckle. Dappled, I sing in blackbird trill, cow call, the hymns of gnats, the leather-rub of leaves.

***This piece first appeared as part of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's EyeLife arts project.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Myth Country II

Illustration to Wordsworth's The Deserted Cottage by Birket Foster

Where the cliff ends, the land runs steeply to the sea. The sound of waves, the barking of seals who lie on the rocks, dive and reappear.

The land is wooded and the trees reach to the beaches. A path follows the sea and the edge of the woods, running in, bridging streams, coming out upon coves and folding back into the woods. There is always the scent of damp, and in spring Blackthorn and Hawthorn blossom above Wild Garlic.

From the woods the path climbs another cliff, through Thrift, Sea Cabbage and Bladder Campion; past the ruined chapel, the fallen cottages that are now just stones. Some are larger, more recently vacated. They bear traces of upper floors, the shells of fireplaces and bread ovens or they house rusted iron bedsteads or parts of ploughshares. Grass grows from the upper stones. Gulls nest in the frames of windows and brambles hide the doorsteps.

*** This is my (brief) response to Doris Lessing's claim that 'Every writer has a myth-country.' It follows Jenny's and Rebecca's pieces on the same theme, published here and on Rebecca's site, and is probably linked to a piece that I wrote some months ago on my day-dream island.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Myth Country by Jenny Walters

Alexander Hogue, Mother Earth Laid Bare

This country is my island of myth,
Where I root my feet to the earth,
Wriggle my toes under the grass
to anchor myself.
I throw back my head,
Stretch out my arms
and grow.

Now I am tall I can cover miles in one stride,
Feel the soft Sussex meadow under my bare feet
and the spikes of the coppiced woods
that snap like charcoal.
Heading north to London and the heat
of the summer concrete rises up and warms the backs
of my thighs.
I scatter cars with my fingers
and wink at cheeky office workers
in skyscrapers with my sky blue eye.
I catch a passing plane in both hands
and abseil off the salty coast.
I crush handfuls of native oysters
in my massive teeth. Shells and all.
I plunge through the waves like a whale
and wave at chalky cliffs.
I haul myself onto the beach at Cornwall
and plop into the sand.
For a moment still.
The sun fills my insides
and rises up to my mountainous breasts.
Some beach-goers are frightened.
Some have been crushed.
I laugh and shake the sand from my hair.
Running fast now, east.
Slowing my pace I start to shrink
with each step.
And here in this country lane
I lie down on the warm tarmac
and sigh.

Jenny's poem was inspired by Doris Lessing's claim that 'Every writer has a myth-country' (African Laughter). Jenny, Rebecca and I have each written about our myth countries, and this piece first appeared last month on Rebecca's site. More to follow....