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Graham Burchell (1950-2021)

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featured poet – Christopher North


Christopher North

Relleu in Cloud

Awoke and found the village in cloud.
There was the flat shape of the acropolis
but as if it had been cut out and removed.
 
The sierra beyond had been stolen
and below almond trees stood poised
in bland vapour as if uncertain what to do next.
 
Other times we have been above the cloud ocean:
an island in a tide and swirl of other islands,
but this morning, mist had fingered its way up the valley
 
streamed into spaces, grooves, runnels,
occupying them, fading Aleppo pines
from green to grey to ghost.
 
Birds stopped singing, the village became muffled;
it seemed an order had been given
that required the maintenance of silence.
 
We were inside the cloud’s single room.
It presented bland walls, vagueness,
was without edge or corner, gave nothing to hold.
 
The streets were comforting:
they quietly continued their daily round
seemingly unconcerned with their new existence
 
within a cloud floating over an unknown firmament,
maybe crossing over turbulent ocean,
vast tundra or windless, dune haunted deserts.
 
All the streets ended in simple whiteness
where before had hung a worthy portrait
of surrounding sierras in rich and vibrant pastel.
 

Christopher North

first published in Writers’s News, 2013;
in pamphlet collection The Topiary of Passchendaele, 2018, Smith|Doorstop Books,
ISBN 978-1-9121961-1-1