The range

For Emma

The path, the shoreline:
parting over seven miles
of flagged, gated greens.

Wrong turn. The Rother
won’t be found among these holes,
links and enclosures.

A captain calls us
back; going out of his way
to set us on ours.

South of the bunkers,
sloping, undefended stiles
open a harbour.

A wall splits the waves.
High in the stone, a window,
the west showing through.

The light-levelled grains
make a flat panorama,
a borderless plain.

Along the hard strand,
scanned and snatched, gulls’ prey descends,
shelling the bay’s edge.

Thin coast. A mile east,
stacked kites, almost motionless,
tethers out of sight.

Jury’s Gap. A sluice
of black sand. On the near side,
feathers gust and flap.

The shingle cut off,
the south saltings divided,
the sea dismantled.

The sewer, the wire,
two borders moving inland,
conduit and chain.

Perimeter flags
lose pigment; starched, dried warnings
fade into forelands.

Ghost of a quarry.
This lake holds its memory
between two counties.

Widney Fleet. Armies
of turbines, rotors stalling,
repeat on water.

A voltage passes
through Burnthouse Pen: vacant camps,
static caravans.

False walls. A vanished
village. We glimpse a city
made up for practice.

Clearing, the salt marsh
falls away to the headland,
framing two stations.

Adrift on rough track:
wrinkled blue incident tape
and white plastic sacks.

Pushing through barley
and waist-high grass; pulling up
waterless gulleys.

Crops block out the bends.
We don’t look up, don’t see where
the curves are leading.

This cornfield copies
the last, and the one before,
and the one before.

The loop is tangled.
Above, breaking cloud; below,
a ragged channel.

Wide of the hedgerow,
spine, ribs, skull; the fox cast out,
caught in the leaving.

Past the Dengemarsh drain,
the first, faint lines of Dungeness,
sparking out of range.

Rye to Denge Marsh, 17 August 2013

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One Response to The range

  1. The smell of the damp corn is still on my shirt…

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