A Song from the North Pole

A Song from the North Pole

Wet fingers of
November trees scratch
Fog and smoke and sky,
Something moving on the Sunday-tide
Slow and soft and silent,
Something catching on
November trees,
Behind the scrap-yard skein
The subtle code of
Turing’s ghost

I can hear it in the hum of pylon lines
Each whip of wind and creak of eaves,
I can smell it in the factory smoke
Each ice-hut stack and truck exhaust

The poorly-attended
White-wood churches empty out,
Refinery sleeping-gas
Rolls down hills of coal-dust
And faded pool-table grass,
Slow and soft and silent
Resting in the hollows of
November trees,
A suitcase memory-bound, I wait
For the airport-bus and rattling
Boneshaker of a Dakota from Svalbard

I can see it in the eyes of hooded strangers,
Each scavenging wreck and gas-plant ganger,
In the eyes of wolves in the tundra,
The whorls of aurora and thunder

I’m flying north,
A rock stuck in my throat
Cold hands that can’t write;
Cold hands I hope to thaw
In the Midnight sun,
My letters calling from the frozen ocean
My broken semaphore sounding
Uncharted depths,
With tokens from our house
And this song of North-pole,
Set free to roam in icebergs
And lay our ghosts to rest

I can smell it in lavender and hollyhocks
In buttercups and saxifrage,
The wireweed and dabberlocks,
And night-scented stock

Patrik Gryst Svalbard November 2011


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