From a St Juliot… (excerpt) | Mark Goodwin

we’re on a lip of
a Pent Argon’s cleft

300m wide with pent
sea silvered with froth
bright as fluorescing argon

and facing us is a cliff
beetling blue-black storm
-ravaged layers cradling
scree-slopes rising
300ft from froth to verge
a cliff given

no name

on my map but named
as a Beeny Cliff
in my North Devon &
Cornwall rockclimbing
guidebook with one
route recorded called
The Tourist, 530ft,
Extremely Severe 5b
+ A2 first climbed
in an October of a ‘79
five long pitches of
dubious slate including
phrases like ‘climb
up via a loose wall to gain
the second scree slope’

even when fit &
rock-tuned this cliff
of dark sharp choss
would’ve pushed
my snailish ardour
for adventure back
into my life’s shell

I am tired my
limbs ache from
not too many miles I’m
rising
though from a
body hollowed
through nearly two
viral-ill years’ veils
of dis
solving selves this
pushing of muscle a
gainst ground & gra
vity is now giving
my soul’s body
back to me

Extracted from the Longbarrow Press anthology The Footing and (in a revised and extended version) Mark Goodwin’s collection Steps.  Listen to Mark Goodwin reading a longer extract from the poem:

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