Collaborating with the poet John Gohorry.
(For Jone Delahaye)
Concerning the line
A king buried deep in the hill allowed your house
for it offered him comings and goings, overheard talk,
the clatter of pans, histories, occupations; a lifeline
from the old absolute to a qualified world
in which thought tempered by age grew hospitable
and drove, half an hour at a time, to its own idiom.
The house lived by daylight and running water,
the good rule of the hill, though candles might serve
in the absence of stars to arouse an eclipsed moon.
On a staircase, stanzas were formed, images wrought
from suggestions of shelf, cabinet, alcove; on the walls
canvasses, yellow and green, probed the wood's mystery.
In the immense cage of the beeches, that held memory
and imagination in counterpoise most like themselves,
strange riders appeared, their horses the pied leaf-light
that the wind drew from the branches, their gestures
recognised many years hence as the distant original
of facts claimed by others on the floor of the same wood.
All day we were air. Shaling beans, hanging a gate,
stalking tracks through the steep overhang of the woods
to our vanishing point and beyond, where the origin
of everything to be apprehended dreamed in its green grave,
we looked into the surge of the hills for the right silence
that colloquy, our best music, could make us part of.
Thus discourse roofed everything. Like some fabulous bird
wrought by your art to astonish threshholds that otherwise
must be taken for granted, it summoned the present
to acknowledge its fading glory, and made of the past
not an icon, but some new work continually in progress
where history, strange to itself, found an interpreter.
Your goats browsed on the hill. Late in the afternoon
we dropped acorns in dibbled holes for another age
to take root in and walk by, imagining should they think
of our time or our artefacts how distance becomes the best
gift of a place, how their great oaks character
some sense of the world for which they too must find words.
It has movement, dimension - transparency, at its best,
in the space between word and word.
I build it out of particulars - hill, farm, goatshed -
a lens that draws fractured sense into focus
proposing a certain seeming that is neither
literal nor invented, its history rather
the substrate of language, the line of its own thought,
reamed on the far side of my writing table
where words fail to surprise or do not sing.
Thus it summons and mediates; more than memory,
more than action; faithful interpreter
of what it does not represent, truthful witness
to all that the eye missed reading between the lines.
Beyond the line is the theory of the line
y = 3x + 4 or y = 4x2 + 2
beyond the theory of the line is the theory
of axis, co-ordinate; and beyond that, topology,
which is the theory of definite locations, of being
in one place in particular; and beyond that,
the vexed parameters of what, bounded anywhere,
makes the theory of being itself.
In what some speak of as circumstances
where a grid reference locates home
you say Draw a house. Draw a horse. Draw a tree.
Through the window, a line of trees dancing
in sunlight, their leaves loud with horses;
in my heart, the flourish of our endeavours,
the rustle of turned leaves conforming to it.
Five strokes and Hakuin brushes the sign midst.
Again and again, the sign midst.
In the midst, let us be sudden.
Our lines be the fiery demon.
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