Fall 1988 • Vol. X No. 4 PoetryOctober 1, 1988 |

The Levels

Past Quaking Houses, on the bull neck of the north Pennines, that has no head, in a flat torn sky, wind circling among hills, like a miner with a wide shallow bowl, panning—above Alston, I went with my nets to dismal grass-blobbed flats, reaching into the Solway's firth, soft basement to rubbed, soft water not poisoned yet by fission, where the fish frisk in a dismal sort of way. Their tails lash the brunette forms of the sea. My nets an impediment over shoulders, catching at knees, or scraping the back of calf and thigh. On a journey not so big as a rushlight, the bog's rushes smeared with sheep's fat, I went. The quaker graveyard still scythed of nettle and its remedy, dock. At Silloth I threw my nets into the sea, their meshes chagrined with a dead exposure to air, and no fish. Nets that weighed on me, hiss in the floating sea. For hours, against the sea's pull tugging like any fish's mouth, green flimsy triangles of salt wrinkling greek characters on sifting illiterate san

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Past Quaking Houses, on the bull neck of the north Pennines, that has no head, in a flat torn sky, wind circling among hills, like a miner with a wide […]

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