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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 4, December 2015

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Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


No Arrows Point Our Way

The tent blows and shakes in the early morning. Rain on the roof, scudding clouds. I want to get up but . . . We’ve been three weeks on the track, walking from Land’s End along the Michael and Mary leylines. Now camped in a green field at Glastonbury, the psychic centre of Albion. Mediaeval pottery in the loo pit.

Away, away with parka and daypack, up the Tor. Wild and blowy and wet. Rain streams the ruins of St Michael. Then out across the Somerset levels. Wet and blowy and wild. Rain driving horizontally. Glimpse ancient oak trees, the threshold of Avalon. Shelter in a barn. Consider the map.

Lunch in the porch of a 12th century church, trying to keep warm. M expresses her feelings of being cold. I don’t express such feelings because it’s so much part of walking the hills. After all a man training for the Alps just accepts cold and wet; in fact he trains with cold baths, says the mountaineer’s old testament.

We sing inside the church, a lengthy round of Dona Nobis Pacem.

voices ring out
in the chapel
my heart rings out
with all the joy
of its knowing

Next, a rudimentary dance in wet boots.

circling around
meeting the eyes . . .
looking upwards . . .
the dance strips us
bares us to our souls

A long walk along lanes. Pause by an ancient well—is this place really called Doubtful? Then onward. Four of us stop at the Poachers Pouch for tea and warm up by a coal fire. We then proceed to get thoroughly lost.

no arrows
point our Way
the map
is obscure
our campsite uncertain

Some lovely walking through woodland. I see deer. Am I ever really lost?

finding
a track through woodland
my heart sings—
never mind that
it goes the wrong way

Misty. Who are the companions of this excursion? Nick, Cathy, Alice I think. As it darkens we emerge on to a road. Then someone rescues us. Takes us to a warm yurt and food. Our landmark Cranmore Tower, a Victorian folly, is also obscured by mist. But we’re close to it. Squishy campsite in the woods. In the night I notice some hip pain.

all the rhythms
of walking the Earth—
uphill plod
and bouncing descent
rhythms of the body knowing

The following day I break down. Shin splints. Have to nurse my body through the rest of the walk to Norfolk. Through the rest of my life?

getting dark
can’t find my path
it’s overgrown
I take to the scrub
blind and scratched and prickled


Author's Note: The "mountaineer's old testament" is G. Winthrop Young's Mountaincraft, 1920.

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