Meridian | Nancy Gaffield

from Part II of  Meridian

               ORDNANCE SURVEY MAP 174:

               —Who you walk with alters what you see.
                               Iain Sinclair, Lights Out for the Territory

               Stratford to Chingford

I walk with Kat Peddie
she sets the pace out of Leytonstone
we walk up Cann Hall Road
under the railway
follow the path to Jubilee Pond
enter Epping Forest
Waltham Abbey our goal

Speaking of Virgil

                               —On their way to Italy
                               the Trojans make a detour to hell

we summon the Low-ghost
consult the compass
watch where the paths divide
follow the needlepoint

Kat stops to photograph the twin towers
overlooking Wanstead flats
there’s talk of demolition

in-between-ness               nepantia

               Like Daedalus    fleeing the realm
we have landed here in ancient woodland
with a giant ball of string
an infamous place
of unsolved crime            lost
keepsakes              part
of the tableau
enjoying pre-ballot optimism
two days before the assembled
crowd X us out

we scout the wood’s white-topped posts
to Leyton Flats & Hollow Pond
shrinking under a hot sun
to a deep depression
thick with brambles
where Whipps Cross Lido
used to be

if language is
if our bodies are

where does that leave us
at the forest’s fringe
on the summer solstice
Kat’s wearing shorts
& we’re still in the union

—I’m going into the woods on a path I have no
idea about. I’m not going to look backwards on
the path at all or make Indian signs on the trees
to see where I am.

we talk of what the outside means
in poetry                in language
lineal women

we make a space of appearance
acting & speaking together
sharing words and deeds

               —anywhere people gather
                               is polis

registering the thunder’s peal
ourself alone

we pause to photograph a tree
               struck by lightning
                               though the centre’s charred
               the canopy flourishes

This is the place where dog lines circle
back on themselves amongst crack willow

               Waltham Abbey was too far.

An excerpt from Part II of Nancy Gaffield’s collection Meridian. You can order the book securely by clicking on the relevant PayPal button below.

Meridian: £12.99 (hardback)

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