factory of roots overplay a ruined foundation: black cavities yawn underfoot, rotten bricks edged in moss, buttercups strangle up toward a mess of cedar lace and maple boughs.
a hedge of fence and chain link barbs guard the metamorphosis of decay. my wrist, bloody from the scrape of climbing. moaning next door, a neighborhood of cows: the heat of 3pm.
we have been here before, stamped our names into soft clay, carried armfuls of bricks from the wall to the rubble, let them succumb to cedar groves, tree cotton, and the gentle claws of moss
knowing that when we return all depressions of our alphabet will have worn to miniature bowls and labyrinthine canals across the surface of this hard-baked ground, and all will seem subtly green, and soft, and buried.
we will have prosecco with breakfast and squeeze oranges into a flute. shine our shoes and check the time, link a blue umbrella on one courteous arm: the storm is due for an hour past noon.
clouds pucker and blow, pale lid on a painted tin: powdered sugar cookies with jam, crescent moons of nut flour dough, dumplings and strudel and brandy capped preserves, salted with diamonds and granulated silver.
walnuts float to the top of my kaffee. ice cream melts to a rich, white foam. a woman rides her bicycle until her hair turns blue, glides past the windows of the pastel shops: a glossary of handbags and shoes of fine leather, bouquet of clipped rococo and buttons stamped from brass. out and about with an eye on the weather.
sweet green of the Salzach seed rushes through canals in the Mönchsberg, past the restaurant linens and glass. combed and grated by a quarter-hour mechanism adorned in weeds and dove down.
two cooing lovers dust their wings, perched between near kissing apartments. the breast of the mountain encloses us here: moss, a few tendrillic limbs of ivy, the roaring lullaby of her streaming voice.
a trout wags its slow body against the ever flow. I sit and wait for the dinner guests to arrive, for the water to wear back its casing, for the gravity of leading things to undo and set us back like autumn watches.
press a little closer, one to the other and to her. the thunder is coming and soon the trout will tire. the iron gear turns again: whole diversion falling at the city’s feet, aglow with light sequestered.
the Seine kisses the brow of her banks, strokes the underside of chin, lobes of new green foliage gaze up from beneath her swirling. the sound laps at the doorway, floods the air in the room. new pools emerge between grass blades on the path, daisies stretch and twist away.
bit by bit, the water is rising. it has swallowed the floor of the wash house and chased the ants inside. ivy climbs up the stone exterior, across the window glass. a cuckoo calls alarm. the line marked 8 now hidden, the darkened metre creeps up to 9.
step from grass to water on a fluid avenue. whirl away to the flooded Ash grove where timbers frame the mist reflected, hung and dampening the boughs high above. past a choir of willows in mourning, a wake for her decorated passage.
When James and Ellen Elrick left Scotland in 1862, they went to Elmvale, Ontario to join their sons James, George and William who had emigrated over the six years previous. One brother, Alexander, stayed behind. Alexander was a blacksmith in the village of Rathven, likely dealing primarily with the shoeing horses and making and repairing wheels. He and his wife Ann went on to have three children, all of whom are buried with them in the Rathven graveyard. The Elricks were traditionally farming people, and there was a pronounced distinction between the farmers and the fishers of the region. While there was nae animosity between the two groups, they wouldn’t have mixed much at all, except for business. With these thoughts in mind, I chose a site in a ravine overlooking an old footpath that leads from Rathven to the Buckie harbour, imagining this as a path Alexander would have taken, and even, perhaps, a place where he and his brothers would have played as children. I settle under the crowns of the trees and fumble with the digital recorder. The lilting gait of Scotland’s great poet knocks my words into a rhyme. Here are three little poems and a snippet of sound.
birds call cacophonous from the lush ditch of the burn
hush of black water lies under their fever
a passing car glides ‘round the bend up above
and the wake of split air whispers after.
tamarack and birk wear daffodil slippers
guarding the bank like slow-blinking sentinels
the black burn flows twist the village and the sea
the old tired footpath keeps apace without speed
I listen for the steps of the passing Alexander
home to the fields above the sea’s constant clatter
something is about to change. bay clouds spot red, bulbs of peach bloom. the giddy grin of afternoon turns a nostalgic mauve, courting stoic at the slate edges of the farther shore.
a heron drums a pattern of shadows on the surface of the sea, wings tick their own quartz regularity above the pallid tidal spill. past the hushed gulls, the homeward crow.
grasses let go their green, ochre stone melts again to grey, my own skin turns a driftwood hue. I scratch at the page. snag the last few licks of colour with pen’s black tip.
when the waves come: they come now with ink on their brows, ink, the rocks they break upon, the air between the rubble of this ruined house, and ink, the undersides of gulls: flying east now, looking for the sun.