I’ve looked at it from many angles,
this two-headed serpent that the Vikings
A thirty year gaze from my own quiet shores
and then briefly, lovingly,
I turn it often in my hands;
some days a smooth, silver sadness,
others a jagged saw
that drags at my skin
as a sharp wind claws
at Dylan’s ‘slipping stones’.
I watch it now
from the safety of the West,
the sun sinking behind me,
and as the tide begins to fall
I realise that I have never seen it
from the sea.
We arrived in our thousands,
laden; waterproofed and prepared
for the squelching, umber trudge.
We stalked, staked claim to the land
and built our temporary shelters;
effective but impossible to find
in the torch-lit, twilight damp. Loosened
by like-minded company, eventide found us
beneath the endless Suffolk skyscape,
throwing shapes as though invisible;
a cagoule-cassocked choir offering
hedonistic hymns in exchange
for a brief respite from the rain.
As we left, small pieces of us clung
to the bosky oasis; twirling bootprints
in the clotted clay, descant notes
perched as dew on forest leaves
and sighs that skittered
on the illuminated lake. Yet,
as the light slipped towards
the end of the earth, I realised
that each of us was leaving
with so much more than we
had packed in our rucksacks.
Blonde light washes the Arno as tender
September night invites the city to bathe
in the balm of the West Wind.
The pink, white and green marble of the Campanile,
visible through your tiny open window,
sits creamily amongst the throng of umber tones.
You chill a young Vernaccia as we talk of
art and architecture; of da Vinci, porcelain
doorknobs and the breathtaking Basilica.
Later, as we cross the Ponte delle Grazie,
in the back of a battered Fiat, the tassita
quietly humming ‘Un bel di vedremo’
and the rain-slicked streets of the sleeping city
sliding beneath us, you gather up
my breath with your own.
Julie Watkins is a Welsh poet. She lives on the stunning Pembrokeshire coast with her three (allegedly) grown up children and an escapologist dog who makes Houdini look like an amateur. She has been scribbling lines all her life but started writing and sharing her poetry about ten years ago. She has had three careers – in banking, in adult education and presently as a learning and development advisor and work-based coach – all of which she describes as the ‘day job’. These she says are her bread and butter, poetry is her oxygen, it’s what enables her to breathe, to join the dots and ‘connect me to me’. She considers herself Welsh and European, is proud of her Celtic roots and often draws inspiration from them in her poetry. She writes everywhere and anywhere. She once wrote a poem on a seacave wall and had to go back the next day to transcribe it. These days she carries a notebook and pen.