'Yes yes yes yes...' Ron our guide
agrees with everyone as usual.
He's been to this country thirteen times.
What he doesn't know he'll make up.
We can afford all this.
Specs and meds always at hand,
memories stretch way back.
We pose in our Dannimacs,
say the same things, reassuring
each other by the way we stick
to the way things are done.
Our maps are creased into fuzzy holes.
I've learnt the population of Switzerland,
its chief wine growing cantons,
its area in square metres.
Caught 8.20 Brig to Montreux,
then the Golden Pass to Interlaken.
Snow on the Rothorn. Bought watch.
A man could lie buried
for a thousand years.
Nose raised under bifocals,
finger darting across columns,
Ron traces the minutiae of trains
to other ranges, better views,
provided it's clear: that's the only danger.
Just the guilt and the quiet
and gannets flying in long lines
from light to dark to light
across the face of the rocks
like angels seeking audience.
Sky set clear for the day,
a studded sea: you'd think
the monks hadn't a bad time of it.
Six centuries of storms and fasting -
there are many monuments to failure.
The world's mysterious enough,
laying down its legends like jewels.
Though any wish could come true here.
They say walking on Skellig
can change your life. I'd best take care.
Narrow steps thin out, no handrails.
I have to imagine the beehive huts,
the high point to the east where they saw
- miracle or trick of the light -
the sun dancing on Easter morning.
Dad has first read of The Telegraph
and mum will have the crossword later
in front of the telly when he's at the pub.
She stands by the stove to eat her porridge,
watching the eggs. He claps his hands,
as he did in India, when he wants more coffee.
I say Jesus would have been a socialist.
Jack de Manio gives the wrong time.
I shout goodbye but they don't hear me.
The woodpigeons cut short in the elm trees.
If I don't run I'll miss the bus.
The June air is yeasty as bread.
Janet Fisher 2004