Poem of the week: A Diurnal upon St Lucy’s Day
A new work by David Wheatley
David Wheatley. Photograph: The Gallery Press
This handful of earth we have selected.
Enter its landscape: you are expected,
and while you drift to sleep, my son,
and dream of the circuit drive you’re on,
we leave the village by the bridge
where the Alford railway meets the hitch
of track and bridge both running out;
and wheeping her small circling note
a curlew flies from flooded field
to field in search of reeds and bield.
O Bennachie, Pitfichie and
Cairn William, three wise tors that stand
above the snaking river Don,
and whose stone circles kiss the sun
on solstice mornings when worlds touch
and snowdrifts dazzle, patch on patch:
hem us in against the cold,
poor sheep foregathered in the fold –
who stare like them and see our gaze
returned to us from their blank eyes.
A quarry guards its sunken wound
beyond the pinewood clearance meant
for houses, but left raked and bare:
grant us O Lord our freehold here
and our small hypocrite dissent
when later waves presume to plant
their tarmac lawns of spacious drives,
tailgaters come to live our lives
and multiply the daily round
from village lanes to far-flung town.
Turning for home we hug the wall
of Cluny Castle’s darkling pile
and hear the congregated geese,
their heckles pecking at the breeze.
We come, we go, a migrant tide,
our lights are islanded in shade,
the paths we take pure instinct now
as the gritters and the snows allow –
this permanence we grow into,
the passing accident we pass through.
David Wheatley’s latest book is The Fourth Craw (Glyph Press)