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9

what troubles can there be, here I mean,

in this place, now, with sun coming in through

open shutters and the stillness of her sleeping

and in the background the occasional

breathing, hardly perceptible, a slight

wheeze there reminding me of last night,

of how at one point I looked out

of the window and saw a cloud that copied

a falling stone, I mean a plummeting asteroid

and isn’t that all our fears, especially this year,

some nutter lighting up the world,

making it dust and gone and I kept walking,

soaked, my shoes lost miles ago

and the streams were ice, my feet were ice,

my every step was ice, so it was only

this faint wish, this faint memory that warmed the ice,

how she couldn’t sleep, how eventually she slept

and how she woke and couldn’t sleep again

until I sang or something, more likely just turned

off a light, and the air tasted of salt, every breath

was salt, proper sea salt like the Cornish stuff,

breathe it in, the grit of salt sucked in,

and there were fords and fens and those odd

ditches separating land, boundary streams,

and I could jump some of them and some

I had to just get in and get on with the ice again,

but I was far from here, from this now,

about as far as I’ve been because honestly I’ve never

been further than Hull and that was 1998,

back when the sky wasn’t so naked

and the world didn’t have an edge,

maybe that’s a lie, delete that, I have been

beyond Hull, listen, I’ve been to Marrakech

okay, Marrakesh and Mongolia and I stayed in a yurt

and drank rancid milk, drank rancid tea,

ate rancid lamb but there wasn’t ice in Marrakesh or Mongolia,

no, ice would’ve been a gift from God,

no, ice was far away in the west,

it was in the boundary ditches, the dikes, the draining hollows,

no, there’s nothing brave about staying up all night,

the real bravery’s in sleeping when sleep aches,

when sleep is a struggle, when sleep can’t be caught,

listen, walking isn’t seafaring, it’s just walking

even if your feet are soaking wet, even if the air tastes of salt,

even if your feet are shackled by ice

and you’re following stars, it’s just a prelude

to seafaring, a prelude to getting on

with what will be done, whoever’s will be done

and soon enough anyway everything will be sound

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About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

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