At Loch Lomond

for M.

I left the aura of London behind me, the thud
of work-at-the-double, the glued-up avalanche
of its A to Z . . . and some leaves leapt out to blind me
of red and green and yellow on the same branch.

I left the aura of London behind me, the looks
and sneers of the upwardly-mobile in the Arts,
who know what’s in and out in the world of books . . .
for chestnut-husks on an orange path.

I left the aura of London behind me, umbrella
of gloom and dirt, creased look, the too-quick smiles –
and came in late October to a Valhalla
of wild-lit miles.

You are my night-loch fullness, the everywhere kiss of air,
the silent response of grass, and nature restoring
the first day again, the sun cupping the sphere,
the slender trees at the side, and wavelets stirring.

I left the aura of London behind me, the scripted speeches
of mordant politicians at a mock tourney –
for the wind’s howling, the rain’s beating around me,
a storm-slap, an unprepared journey.

I left the London aura, metropolis ordure
of careless trash in the streets, sado-shop horror,
the stink of strut-about wealth, expense-account orgy –
for the air’s sting, the light bird’s hover.

For the aeoned bluntness of rock, the shouldering hills,
the shining pebbles, for the good sinew of water,
and the wonder of these autumn-painted halls –
I left the London, and the modern aura.

You are the woman of the hill
who combs the children’s hair
and has the language skill.
I sought you and I seek you
nowhere and everywhere.
The lady at the water’s brim
who sees between the hills to other skies,
if one came to you from across the seas
not like you, not unlike you,
what would you say to him?

I shall return to the future, to children poisoned with lead,
to the furious sweat of the city where people grow rich
for the sake of a shroud among the fortunate dead
of customised stitch.

I shall return to the great stain on Art.
First person in hyper-reverse, mental agonia
jamming the forward motion of the heart –
and leaking ammonia.

I shall return to the city of ads and drugs,
where futures are bought and sold and never seen,
to the junk in the road and the junk in the mind, the dregs
of our work and play – the waste that has always been.

You are my loch
that I see to be wild and gentle
clear-moving, whole

What I see of light, of dark
what I sense of notes, movements
is a symphony held between hills, air, stone

So much itself are you
as water, turbid essence
of nature’s finest plans


When on the run and nipped by baying theorists
in any of the abstracts, ethics, art
or education, I can nail those sophists:
remember Lomond. Speak. They will depart.

When lost, confused and dumb on foreign travel,
uncertain what to do, which way to face,
believing no trip to be worth the trouble –
remember Lomond. It will fall in place.

And when, at last, I near the final ember,
and figures in the gloom are standing by
before the darkness leaps . . . I would remember
the leaves sailing at Lomond down the sky.

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