Flying Down Wales

The wind bucks
but it doesn’t refuse us
— does us no favours either,
no more than it would a moderately
successful bird.
The land, though, gives little away

from bird height.
(Swans, calmly rowing,
aren’t unknown at 20,000 feet.)
Not dark yet, but the edges of things
begin to blur
as age will loosen our grip first on names,

nouns, days,
then on all definition…
We track down the knobble-
back spine of a difficult country —
surly wrinkles
in the grey, the sun withheld, till all at once

and suddenly
every tarn, stream-
capillary, oxbow and stippling
reed-bed, each least bog-seep is gold-
tooled script,
is fire-spill from the smelting furnace. Or

say: we see
what the birds see
with their thousand miles to fly
and steering by the flicker-compass
in the genes: the stateless
state of water, on the frontier between day and night.

from Later (Bloodaxe, 2013), © Philip Gross 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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