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From ‘Fulmar’s Wing’.

By JEREMY HILTON.


THERE ARE BEAUTIFUL places on earth where
		nobody is spared - the 
boundary, the high crossing
		 unmet ambition 
downwind of the mountain
		no trembling fountain that 
does not stretch the chasm
		fling from its rim a river 
that must start somewhere 
	       only to merge in the salt destiny
		of mankind that 
water goes nowhere
	       underground holes black in
		the geomorphic plates Kom 
Peak, mountain of phantoms mists on the
summit always
	      mist on the camera lens
		the photographer’s retina there is no 
poetics without ethos only cold
constellations and distant barking dogs
THERE IS A need to mourn Marielle Franco
      	     felled by a 9mm hired assassin’s bullet she
     		       fought for the favela dwellers in Rio
		for women’s rights, for gays and for 
black men, young and poor, targeted 
	           by the local militia in a city 
seeming more and more like
	    a militarised police state praise Marielle
then heed the coffins of yourselves, heed
		the unspoken mists of daylight
		fulmars following trawlers flatiron
clouds that seem to mourn the earth 
		 which tips to overheating
			like cracks in dry mud
				 widening
SLANT OF SUN on a slate sea a 
thousand
		gulls on a field spread
			with manure are put to flight 
with their raucous
		calls, red clay slopes the
			land drains slowly arthritic 
rootlets veining back up through grit
	from the earth hour and its dark 
		candle-lit we reach forward 
into the light forward
	beyond oceans’ reaches we scan 
	for
cedar mountain the dripping understory 
times a span of coast both directions but        

no sightline to the shore below ghost cliffs to 
west eastwards crumbling bluffs and the long 
						line of
 			amber shingle
WEEKS OF GALEWASH, fields turned to 
marshes
	hard-paths puddled deep smoky 
water, cave art dated further back
	into pre-history, across a boggy 
heath two dartford warblers flit
the higher sprigs, the density of gorse 
heavy-laden our nature when crowned
   crowned with obsidian that cutting spark that shard 
      which the meso-Americans treasured for tools
			aligning
  			their giant avenues towards the 
			Pleiades
			night’s smoky lake obscure 
tenancy skyward, caravanserai streams
	 strong along the Silk Road 
	crossing
		the Oxus, smoky river that 
	plunging from Pamirs, parts the plains of
		all Asia no we saw 
no hawfinches nor lone
			cattle egret

THIS IDYLL OF afternoon prescience where
gulls glide following fulmars the long bass
of ocean breaking to foam and later rain
patters the windows cleaved meanders of
water through sliding shade, as the new
rivers carved across the Argentine pampas
when forests and grassland give way to
soil too loosed and impoverished by soya
by quick profit by greed – with the
emigrants through those hemlocks through
the thorny and inhospitable marsh where
the winding Pilcomayo floods shallow as
the tide over moonlit shingle


A RAGGED WINDOW in dark cumulus 
heaped
	up like granite like foam reveals 
bright pale cloud behind, a sliver
		of silver, and departing sun 
painting the rims golden this place 
stitching wonders through the terrible ­–
   April’s  faint sunlight diffusing misty white 
	cloud everywhere godwits both
species  swishing   and  prodding   shallow 
estuary  river  past  the map’s  border,  on 
banks fogged,  crumbling,  back  upriver to 
Thebes
	this place of weather and night 
switching its town-lights on, the tug 
	of the harbour, the tug of the border was 
strong among the river dragonflies the ocean 
ravaging the geology of cliffs, jackdaws
	writing on the sky in black

A RAINY MIST, a grainy light not quite
	darkness or light shrouding the
       everywhere birds, gearing up for 
   nest-time for sex chasing spectres or 
			each other, herring
        -gulls on roof ridges magpies into the
         tallest tree blackbirds – but both are 
				males! – across
		grass in the era of the 
swollen and spreading they have led 
	   the watchers to shadows and bare 
		earth, timber through fake 
tunnels   two       different    wildernesses 
overseen by the same light 
    woman at the cusp of history standing
in a portal, now ghost now mortal ravens 
swooping low through coastal scrub


GIRAFFES TALL in a truck ferried in groups of
 	seven across the river Nile two 
wheatears rest on a lonely hilltop a crossroads 
appears twice in the mythical mind
		waterlogged ground drying fulmars 
gliding grey, straight-winged – water 
		 that doesn’t change, oil
discoveries threatening traditional habitats of
		giraffes in Uganda, ground east of 
the Nile loosened by storm and
		chainsaw, poachers with 
AK-49s shooting at helicopters at elephants
no hiding-place in last year’s dead brake 
		spindles territory into maps


ALBATROSS CHICKS ON Crozet weeks 
waiting 
    the return, sailing on the wind many many miles 
above an angry ocean the seabird’s cry comes from 
the beginning of the world Percy Kelly painting the 
pitheads and
		harbour walls in the 
core-blue coals, the hoarding of 
  a life-time’s work concussion on no one’s 
		clock, the generosity
		   of risk, of now two little
owls, spotted pots on a rock ledge
		dark patterns from the outside 
THEY STALK THE narrow ways of nether heaths 
to the low stream with carp, it is not our 
moon, nor stolen from the sky’s 
      cumulus, the haste of hail-showers 
   shooting through a burn of heavy heart
   lays low the pulse silken white tendrils 
thrown across our sky shy prods on mud 
		or margin the call 
of curlews or the whimbrels’ scatter winging 
to northern outposts numbers falling a mark 
on the marsh of this shore 
		this harbour vast and 
silent, islanded, tide ripple rolling 
			moon glaze 
MUTE SISTER THIS one finest lost thing
	in the long trail-blister of the 
    river-crossings, the girls snatched
		for the greedy gods a 
sprung and beautiful thing
    	like a singer’s held note as the 
    foraging seabirds stray further
	 from their nests when warming seas send 
		sand-eels toward the pole
	   cedars spindling mist-drift through
		some infant ice-age there is 
no beauty but gold
	    tarnished to industrial rust
	    across the thieving container-ports 
gluttony of nations, breakout from
metalled malice and tornado famines borders of 
    hard-wire and high cameras the filmy sun 
			banding
 			   to mud-red day’s end
THE PRODDING WHIMBREL on the pebbly
shore  
	retreat of the tide to cloud’s curtain 
				the undercurrent 
of oceans overheats red-valleyed,
magnetised oasis of the whimbrel nomadding 
north to
				polar ice-melt 
always there is some shift of air always
there are rivers flooding from 
   deluge, tsunami seas encroaching on cliffs 
     on lowlands the world wishing to hold firm 
		against that instant misreading 


Author’s note

These poems borrow extensively from other writers, always in a spirit of homage, most notably from Cantilena by John Peck and The Magic Door by Chris Torrance; also, from Barry Lopez (Arctic Dreams) and Kapka Kassabova (Border). My thanks and appreciation to the writers concerned. —JH


Jeremy Hilton is the author of twelve books, most recently Lighting Up Time: Selected Poems 1991 – 2004. The full sequence of Fulmar’s Wings (75 poems) is due from Knives Forks & Spoons Press in 2021. A novel, A Sound Like Angels Weeping was published by Brimstone Press in 2012. Hilton was born near Manchester in 1945 and has degrees in English Literature and in Social Work. From 1972 until 1998 he served as a social worker, mostly in Worcestershire. Between 2007 and 2017, he studied music composition, and completed a number of contemporary chamber music pieces, some of which have been performed. In 2017, he moved to Bridport in Dorset with his partner, the writer Kim Taplin.

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