The collector of maps travels
by fingertip in lamplight
following the courses of rivers
from high source to sea;
waterfalls to drawling meanders,
the yawns of ox-bow lakes.
He may turn to canals with locks,
tunnels, aqueducts; or roman roads,
disused rail tracks, ancient hedgerows,
sunken lanes, noting as he goes
ley-lines joining churches, hills,
fording places, holy wells.
Tracing coastlines takes him on
past cliffs, zawns and sea-stacks
haunted by fulmar and kittiwake
to estuaries flecked with curlew,
perilous with rip-tides, quicksand.
Vast solitudes of moor attract him
with gorse, ling, the stonechat’s rasp.
At dusk, by a deserted croft, he rests
beneath its wind-shaved rowan,
sipping cocoa his wife brought in,
gathering energy for a quick return
via Redesdale and the Great North Road.