By that cottage cut from the local slate
– as if an oath of stone
sworn to the stable and the clarified –
(a small beck drained off the hills,
inveigling its way by the drystone wall
undulant with cress and watermint),
he set up a kind of isolation
and photographed it. For a while, in that pause
before the rain began falling,
he sensed between them
something of love and its distances,
hurt and integral as the ruffled quiet
the blue stones lay in, the brook
moving round them,
cold and clear, forming
egg-shapes, broken or carved, licked ruins;
or something like the hills,
infinitely gentle, infinitely far, though he
knew if he stooped down
he could touch the near soil,
touch but never hold, and only be touched
and held, among the mercies of the world
mercilessly moving.

Then in the scooped quiet
of the cool of the afternoon,
below the escarpment,
another photographer’s residue,
basking in light: in
the intense quiet
he felt the landscape
grow stillness:
felt stone within the blue stone, as the air
fluctuated,
informed by a squall prowling.

For some time
they drove on in silence
her age filled in
unutterably as the other words
flickering over the vacancy
of what he had to
and could never say, (working around,
around) – and only as a broken silence
did that purity of silence
settle once again, over them both
and the small slate town
they next arrived in, to leave next morning.

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