(From the exhibition at An Tobar, November 2013)
What if there were other lands, whose cartography was a myth,
whose character could only be guessed via hazy glimpses through
tiny windows, seen through other people’s eyes? What if that is
where we live?
This particular spot on the map, marked with a brass-
Headed pin, in proper nautical style: this point
On the trail. Here be monsters, glimpsed at dusk;
Fragments of colour, hard-filtered, tangible:
Driftwood fantasies of goblin and shark, edged images
Taken by remote cameras, out of the corner of the eye.
A woman of salt, a woman of sea, volatile,
Pliable. A man’s long thighbone, a twist of timber
Warped and knotted with age, a tree’s limbs,
A fish’s spine. A metamorphosis: forever becoming,
never done. Furnace slag, wrought out of earthfire:
the organic waste of the planet made beautiful.
A bird whose feathers are charred kelp, a huddle
Of stone houses, rough-cast, turning their shoulders
To the wind. Inside, the floors are blue glaze,
Worn smooth by the rubbing of generations of feet.
Shelter here is compact, enclosed, tactile, the walls
Buffed to a shine by countless stroking hands.
Through the smallest window of the farthest house,
Blurred by stain of salt on sand-blasted glass,
Visions of mountains rear like stallions
And crash in ruin on the stone-grey shore.
Here be dragons, coiled in shells: the ghosts
Of extinct ammonites flung up from imaginary seas.
What map could chart the finished form of these?