The sodden tufts of grass that make their way, disaffected,
between rocks on the cliff edge
and along the cattle grates,
remind me that all things press on without permission.
And so what if the trees lean to one side,
the wind passing over their backs?
And so what if the clouds make a coy engagement with the sun,
sliding swiftly one by one?
They weaken her conviction,
and still she turns the hills an emerald green
and casts a silver spotlight on the sea.
Some places have a way of hiding weakness.
I’ve seen perhaps a thousand birds and not a single one dead on the ground.
On driving into town, I came across an old man
stopped in the road to pick up a lifeless thing. Laughing he turned and said:
“I thought it was a pigeon, but it’s only someone’s shoe!”
A woman just past middle age sits down at her kitchen table
labeling jam jars. On one she writes “Bron Teigle”
after the abandoned house where she and her friend found the plum tree.
Displeased with her handwriting, she looks down at the swollen knuckles
where her marker rests, the skin gathering over them like kitchen rags.
She forgot what they looked like once — these are her hands now.
This place is full of these scenes, set to the constant sound
of the wind rushing through an open field, whistling through the hedges,
commanding branches to tap a lonely beat upon the windows.
And when the wind holds its breath a moment
there’s the sound of rushing water
as it finds its hell-be-damned way to the sea.
From the window of the hotel pub
I watch the waves push past the dark line in the sand where they once were.
As long as there have been eyes to see they’ve never stopped coming.
They are underneath me now, under the wooden pillars of the deck,
In their slow obligatory march into the land and out again.
And what does it mean to this body huddled here?
I push into the wind and mist to rest for a moment against a cliff edge,
to catch a glimpse of the island.
I see shapes on the horizon, no different than the sheep grazing here.
To the wind, I am only a slightly larger thing to push against,
but I turn my shining face to the sun like any shivering blade of winter grass.
Perhaps what’s different is my own intimate knowledge of time.
I gaze upon it with the same singular focus of a bird upon the sea,
but it is of less consequence.
He lives a truth which I can only read about in the wellness section:
The only fish that matters is today’s fish.
I wonder if, perhaps,
made mostly of water,
I, too, obey the moon’s silent command with my comings and goings?
After all, what took me here?
Movement across the Earth is my only birthright,
owning nothing else,
which I exercise with free will.
And, yet, perhaps it’s not free will at all.
But the water in me,
finding its hell-be-damned way
to the sea.
Johanna is an editor, professional Googler, and arm-chair sociologist whose job as a travel writer is the longest, most realistic game of make-believe the world has ever seen.