In the mail from Altrincham, England came an unassuming little volume, The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile. It's Alice Oswald's first book, published in 1996 and now in reprint from Faber and Faber. I take the liberty of posting a complete poem here as a way of making sure as many of us Americans get to know this work as possible.
Really there are half a dozen I'd like to post. She's changing my poetry brain, but I need more time to understand why and how.
Bike Ride on a Roman Road
This Roman road — eye’s axis
over the earth’s rococo curve —
is a road’s road to ride in a dream.
I am bound to a star,
my own feet shoving me swiftly.
Everything turns but the North is the same.
Foot Foot, under the neck-high bracken
a little random man, with his head in a bad
controversy of midges,
flickers away singing Damn Damn
and the line he runs is serpentine,
everything happens at sixes and sevens,
the jump and the ditch and the crooked stile . . .
and my two eyes are floating in the fields,
my mouth is on a branch, my hair
is miles behind me making tributaries
and I have had my heart distracted out of me,
my skin is blowing slowly about without me
and now I have no hands and now I have no feet.
This is the road itself
riding a bone bicycle through my head.
~ Alice Oswald
The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile, 1996
Poetry Friday is at The Family Bookshelf today (I can't link to it because the site keeps shutting my browser down--anyone else?). Happy Mother's Day to all, especially to my own mother, and to my English mother-in-love (no laws pertain to mothers except those of the heart, who celebrates on a whole different day and who sent me this book.