from “Home at Gasmere”









I guess I still don’t know—
Go on—leave the coast
In search of I do not know what
Fly to England and to Grasmere
The poem going on past its own
Safe boundaries—the small concave
Of one page and one vale
Home amidst empires or
Detritus of colonies home
Which I could be but am not from home
We cannot retreat or retire to
When the air itself is burning smoke
The soils ripped open for hydrocarbons
The waters crisscrossed by
Dilbit and diluent pipes that
Map of resource we cannot escape that
Time we kept writing and travelling
Because energy seemed an eternal delight


There isn’t invocation enough
To announce arrival amidst
Herbs and vegetables in Wordsworth’s garden
Rhubarb and foxglove and nettle
Amongst rock and moss and oak by the lake
There is no way to begin—
Slate and nasturtium
The lumpy white walls of Dove Cottage
Nails and wires dangling
Clematis and wild rose climbing
So that the senses fill with a verse
That has been rushing towards this small place
Since the universe began
And it will shoot right past us
Go through an opening in the mountains
Crack in the clouds jets scud
Speed off to where the light passes
Into the collapse of all things
And I will not catch one word of it
I will hang out at the picturesque
British Petroleum station
In Ambleside smelling the petrol and
Asking after the Gulf oil spill and
Converting the price of junk food—
Its infinite chemical transports—
From pounds to dollars
Watching the traffic back up along the
Rydal Road—the old Corpse Road along which
Everyone who died in Ambleside passed
I will consider the presence or absence
Or more likely present absence
Of shale under the earth here too the
Likelihood that they will frack these
Fells and dales rising the barbeque smell
Of coal burning in Dove Cottage and
The fuels that undergird this pleasant absence
Which is a seeming of independent rocks and waters
Lack of work or need
Shuttling between the how we make our
Living and the where we make our living

- Stephen Collis