The wind up here will slap you cold as a milkshake.
It rules the bog and stone of this bare hillside,
it turns the tarn below from black marble
to velvet and drives cloud-shadows across
the valley and the corrie’s facing slope
like a mesmerizing screen-saver. She
leaned into the slap of November air
on the back of his Harley, scorned
helmets as she scorned the sissy bar, just as she
thinks of the sign below that warned of fickle
weather and that stout boots must be worn.
scorned the drivers cowering in their Buicks and Oldsmobiles,
in fear of the speeding heavy biker and his bitch.
She finds an erratic to sit on, left behind
by a helpful glacier, and fishes through her pack:
white cheese, Ordnance Survey map, flask of tea,
shocked her the first time the bikers said to stop
talking and start sucking, the first time
apple, extra sweater, playing-card-sized
slices of brown bread. As she eats her lunch
they punched her in the face. She wondered, too,
what they’d do when they got bored. Fear and longing
sent her to London, the gobbing and stabbing,
local kids fly past, shouting and running
downhill in their trainers.
squats and the determination
to shoot swallow snort anything
She turns to her descent, picking her way
past puddles, over loose and slick pebbles
anyone thrust in her hand. London, where she found
her mates and later listened to their mums
complain that she’d helped them kill themselves
as thumbtacks of rain spatter her jacket’s back.
At the grotto Saint Brendan stands like a skateboarder
atop his tiny boat, and under Mary’s
foot her old friend the serpent is writhing.
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