by DAVID HAWKINS
Even when we were ghost-footed
there was always a load-bearing sense.
The throughput of this mossy district
is dark water, completely un-skied,
mired and filtered with time’s
parenthesizing habit—a solid ripple.
But is a grounding instinct somewhere
in the layers? When every plunging step
finds nothing to stand on, no way to end
its drift, the recurring step
compresses rising ragged discs of water-
coloured futures running into each other:
florets and florets, partial greens, purples
and reds, drawn whites and sopped browns,
while the small, glossy voids behind
burble in their sockets, footprints
emptying of space giving way
to rich bubbles’ complete worlds;
bright black, everyman thoughts on bursting
deep marsh smells and, falling, a sharp
handful of sedge, its tang on the palm.
Then living silence wells up again
and swallows the unmarked path.
This is the place just before nowhere.
At sixteen I led a band of boys
through such country: a huge bog
bigger than the map
(blue Rizlas concertina-ing in a wet pocket),
in the quest for a new badge
with a head full of knots I could tie
from memory, all forgotten now
except the bowline, the knot that never slips:
David Hawkins is a writer, editor, and botanist from Bristol, England. He was awarded second place in the 2015 UK National Poetry Competition. His recent work has also appeared in Stride and is forthcoming in Blackbox Manifold.