I meet a woman with no handbag
on a cliff, broken-topped by eager seas
where Holland seems walking distance away.
We discuss living here.
She asks me about the cities I’ve seen,
the sort of lists I make.
‘You search for your stillness in books, don’t you?’
She says. I think I know what she means.
I’ve been wondering what it is
about this place
now, on the cliff, and earlier;
casting glances above flint
to skies wider than valleys
wider than waking dreams
wider than the ellipsis where you felt
a sorry should have been.
Here, it is hard to imagine London me
or Liverpool me,
sipping something icy and dry
in a room splitting with noise
and movement and accessories.
Because there, you are the rats that are never more than five feet away
you are that difficult decision of which shoes
yellow or turquoise
you are the balloon trapped
between doors of a train
Here, you are a little harder to define.
Here, where there is so much stillness
and an unfamiliar calm in the faces
of the inhabitants of this tiny town
It’s a stillness that makes you address
every instant where you’ve modified your voice
to suit the top notes of the wine
every time you’ve averted your eyes,
pulled your hood up
and walked by.
And yet, behind all this stillness there’s movement
swallows back from Africa,
the wind around the church
like a boy with aeroplane arms,
the ocean relentless against rock.
The stillness here is more than a lack of motion
it’s like the kind you find in books –
revealing and startling and true