Life Is a Walk Across a Field


This is the opposite of the Russian proverb, Life is not a walk across a field, which is the last line of Boris Pasternak’s poem Hamlet.

Life is a walk across a field
sometimes a golden dreamdrift of polished petals
and daisies bouncing among the hummocks of moss
which guide an infant river sometimes over squashed grass
sometimes under the spongey turf but sometimes

the tickling green surface breaks apart underfoot
and the mouth of the ground gapes
and the bogdragon swallows down your shins
your hips your armpits your chin your –

Life is a walk across a field
and should you find a milkmaid in one hollow
with a jug of cider and breasts like summer
from behind the spectacular oak will steam
the minotaur, half farmer and half bull
guffawing as his horns impale you both oh yes

Life is a walk across a field
of buttercups and landmines…

from All Shook Up - Poems 1996-2000 (Bloodaxe, 2000), copyright © Adrian Mitchell 2000, used by permission of the author's Estate.

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