This next poem is one of a little group of poems that I wrote for my wife about places that I knew before her I met and knew her. They're kind of introductions of her to these places and of the places to her in some sense. They're all places that we've been too together since we met, but one of them is about a place that we never have managed to get too but only seen at a distance.

Holy Island

I am behind you on the mainland, leaning

on your shoulder and pointing with one arm

in front of your face at weightless cinders

which are ravens blowing above the island.

 

Boulder clay on the outcrops, and beaches

doted and dashed with coal dust. Guillemots

whitening the cliff face. Small orchids clearly

still evolving in a downpour of Arctic sunlight.

 

How many years are there left to cross over

and show you things themselves, not my idea

of things? 25, if I live to be the age of my father.

I cannot explain why I have left it as late as this.

 

Your black hair blows into my eyes, and I see

everything moving fast now. Weather polishes

the silver fields ahead. The ravens swoop down

and settle in the gorgeous pages of the gospels.

 

from The Custom House (Faber, 2012), Andrew Motion 2012, used by permission of the author c/o The Wylie Agency (UK) Ltd

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