Love is most nearly itself, When here and now cease to matter...

Sunday morning run

T.S. Eliot, , Four Quartets, East Coker


Posted by Kevin Flint on May 01, 2017

Last Sunday morning I slept through the alarm and only just got up in time to meet my two friends, Martin and Stuart, at Fairholmes car park just a little way from the dam that feeds water down into Ladybower reservoir. Travelling by car we headed by road around the Western shores of the next two reservoirs to arrive at Westend. As a small stream that flows down from Bleaklow watershed into the Derwent Reservoir, its name, or rather its express homonym, in part inspired this poem. In hearing the name, 'Westend', therefore, I couldn't help thinking of the play of words with the West End in London.

Starting the run my body was completely ill prepared for what followed. With the start point name and the feeling of just having to do the run I started to consider what it might mean to variously come to love places and events. It’s these thoughts that have inspired the poem that follows.


The impossible beyond the here and now

As “West End,”

a familiar colloquialism,

is dangled before our eyes,

life for that great body

of Londoners

may appear as easy routine.

“It just goes on, mate.

Know what I mean?”

No shortage of clichés, then.

For many

it’s a cool place.

Cool to be

blown by the winds of time

Shaftesbury Avenue, Reagent Street,

Oxford Street and Soho,

Charing Cross Road,

Leceister Square,

Ludgate and Primrose Hill.

That great body,

grows and grows,

no longer located

in any known place,

not unruffled in the least,

it would seem,

by any question

of those winds

carrying, for its majority, still,

many conceivable vestiges

of power,

of that place of power

desired and desiring:

some earlier rich elite

of the Medieval world

separating their own body

keeping it free from smoke.

Obviously unperturbed,

ever implacable

despite the hand of Thanatos

killing life at every corner

with its ever seductive

sublimely erotic

sometimes uplifting

re-presentations.

Its powerful allure,

as the sometimes hidden nourishing roots

of the great body,

it becomes almost insatiable

in its hunger to purchase,

to make so many possibilities

its own:

without even a dash

of the dissimulation it makes possible,

without even a soupçon

of irony

without even the hint,

or even suspicion

there’s something else at work.

Rarely,

it becomes obvious,

does its nonchalant airs

gift this body

with the chance to turn around.

May be any re-turn

carries us back,

unconsciously,

to the Tower –

back to that all so familiar possibility

locking the body in the present.

So, re-turning to ask

about Thanatos,

about love,

about those wonderful impossibilities

this large and powerful body,

this body without borders,

re-turning to ask what it calls life,

carries with it always

sublime risks,

does it not,

of moving into

that space marked by the unknown

beyond comprehension,

beyond words

that space registered as impossible to calculate.

But, isn’t that the future:

A time without time,

A time without words

A timeless impossibility

without familiar towers,

ever locking the body’s unconscious

into the present,

while cultivating

that ever-unknowable

monstrous arrivant

landing without prediction

on the shores

of our everyday world.

No wonder anxiety

has no object:

when it take us back

to the future.



Love

not being tied

to such impossibility

at least opens us

to its own impossibility

in the coming space of time

the coming time of space.

Let’s re-turn without turning

to Westend again.

Not the West End,

but a humble

brook

that stands in homonymic relation

to that other powerful location

further south.

Here the lowly stream,

Westend,

tumbles and splashes its way

across its own bed,

without ever taking sleep –

down

down

down

until losing its identity

in the dark depths

of Howden.

Cold morning.

Grey cloud filters the sunlight.

Running upwards,

against the flow,

body unsteady

out of balance

thumping into the earth

not gliding over it.

In the shadow:

tall pines,

their proud feet clutching the earth

with such grace

reach out

from their canopy.

A few snow flakes

strike our faces

melt instantly

bring memories of the slopes

painted white with snow.

Just a few brush strokes

of white below Grinah Stones.

Martin and Stewart are ahead.

On the ridge now above the scarp

Back down to Westend’s waters.

Northwards,

Upper and Lower Clough

gathering in the moorland waters

flowing down into the Derwent

they simply stand in silence.

Meditation.

The body’s calmer now.

Then falling

through the dark ice:

Too heavy this morning!

Stop.

A white hare hops away from our path.

Ready for the snow

his coat now completely out of place

against dark black peat.

A quiet reminder,

of the violence

we call global warming:

this silent inexorable force

does not consult

with anyone,

with anything.


Grinah Stones

brings us a brief rest.

Great holes carved in the grit

by the winds, snows

and rains,

the hot blue sky days.

Running again

sliding over the black mud

hopping from stone to stone

crenulations and foliations

of ice

not rock

keep us on our toes.

Following a big arc

around the upper valley

of Westend

the obvious path

gifts us

with horizons.

We’re focused on one:

another summit

Bleaklow Stones.

Silence.

The dark peat moorland

stretches out in every direction.

Sleet and snow

blown in the cold winds.

No place to stop here.

Onward

Downward again

over Westend Head

crossing Westend Moor

back into the forest.

Darkness.

Picking the way

over dead branches

rocks and peat.

A wrong turn

gives us another hill to climb.

Final descent

Fagney Clough

takes us steeply down

to the path

by Westend brook:

The car.

Though Thanatos and Eros

In playing out

playing with us

here in the hills,

where love

desire,

passion

pure allure

creates its own timelessness:

a timeless flow.

We always still

face the impossibility

of standing for long

beyond

those silent powers

of being.

But love

at least

opens to us

space

beyond any possible

vine,

beyond any possible

here and now

on this earth,

beyond any possible:

Isn’t that what love

gives us

without charge

a gift:

it always remains beyond,

outside,

outside any place

outside and before

any metaphysical sign

that often takes us in

with its cunning deceptions

but these are no match for love:

outside/inside any possibilities

filling us with joy

love remains

outside and inside

our joyful re-turn

to that impossible

coming space of time

the coming time of space.

Kevin Flint

January 2017

I hope you enjoy reading this poem. Any thoughts, suggestions, and comments would be most welcome. I look forward to hearing from you.