They make the roads very straight here. Men pour cement and purple black gravel and flecks of sticky tar, And these roads, they run into cities under burgeoning black skies on golden Rollers and golden lights, shining paved and strong. By the road, by the silver night, the shore of a river Lies belly-up; brown slick mud exposed like innards And beyond that on both sides is the dark. The trees rise rustling black, gaping against the Light purple edges of the sky Enclosing a blackness so deep that I have become a seer. I see pale gold leaves just beginning to bud in the half light I see dried blue cornflowers glowing faintly I see pale faces looking out from between the trees. The gorge falls to me on the other side In facets of lavender and sapphire and wisps of smoky rock I smell the lavender as it falls down and it smells sharp and old. The tears roll down those mute faces. Did your blue-eyed girl go away? Or was it father, enemy, or friend? Does it hurt like glass forcing its way through your veins? The world would be a better place if we bore each other’s pain. We don’t. Do you cry, my invisible friend? Do you feel? Do I make you laugh? Do I make you cry? Lives flash green and sparkling in the dark, running with childlike glee. On and on they spin, without questions or answers, ensconced in just a low domestic roar of conversation and cutlery and glasses clinking- Where is that red warm hand that we all seek? The horizon lights up in a white heat as strokes of lightning cut the pale glittering dust of the sky The ground rolls and shakes like a green wave And the roads crack.
The illustration I’ve chosen for this piece is by Peder Balke, a 19th century Norwegian painter. He is vastly underrated. He painted the aurora many times, but this is the one painting that I find absolutely mesmerising. It’s in black and white, taking the colours away from a phenomenon that is famously colourful, and because of that it is so true. They are like curtains of light forming mirages of worlds in the night sky.
There is no aurora borealis in my poem, but it also features a mirage conjured up by the actor of the poem. I had the inspiration for it while on a bridge at night; the bridge looks out to the city on one side and a huge mass of untamed, hilly woodland on the other. A river flows silently underneath. I usually stand on the side of the woodland. As I looked out into the night, I saw colours. It was very dark and it should have been too dark to see anything, but I saw colours in the trees. They weren’t bright, you understand, just subtle shifts in greens and blues so slight that it’s entirely possible that I imagined them. But they were there, and it was like a fourth dimension, it felt nearly miraculous. It was wonderful.
But I don’t know.