The Dust

The silence was different because the sounds
Before it had been different. It grew deeper
With every new bend in the upward road
Through the parched mountain forest; until

I began to hear, where the track steepened,
Turned suddenly uphill and straightened out,
Sounds entering my ears from higher still,
Something bearing down on me from above,

Checking speed by braking on bend after bend,
Coming nearer with every step of my threatened life
On this upward venture into more and more dust,
On a stony track in another hottest summer.

Then the truck arrived with its grey bridal train of dust
On the straight itself, ten seconds up ahead.
I stood still on the only ledge above
A deep green drop that might have checked a fall,

And raised a hand, smiling, to a windscreen where
Another hand raised itself, someone smiling back
Acknowledging me, and leaving me again
Looking down alone through a settling cloud

At the shuddering cargo of logs that had been trees,
Each longer than the length of the truck itself;
At the end of the very largest, no white- or red-
Or any-coloured rag to warn about what it carried.


from Ludbrooke and Others (Enitharmon, 2010), © Alan Brownjohn 2010, used by permission of the author

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