Friday, 27 January 2012

Hearth / Sòrn

Night in the deep forest
Falls on blind eyes.
No-one sees the fading of the light.

Heard above birds in flight,
Speak in tongues not our own.
Other meanings hide
In their telling.

Fire in the earth
Came blue at last,
As if ice were lying
Just beneath the surface.

In the trees’ circle.
A ragged hem of sky,
Two shades paler
Than the black canopy,
Cupped one star
In parting cloud.

What had been snow,
Remnants of sleet and rain,
There, the mist falling
Was dew upon the eyes,
An infinity of moisture
From the pinewood’s arms.

In its ring of stones, blue,
With a cold element of stillness,
The patient light shone
As if there was no end to it.

Above, where no-one looked,
Now, the vague forest
Crackled with sounds moving:
The horse from right to left,
The beat of wings
Like eagle
Like moorhen
Like heather cock
With, behind, sounds calling
From forgotten seasons.

Then the singing,
High and cold
As if blue also was its colour.
A song like the sea,
A stream of southbound sea,
With waves and spume
Coming angular across the Minch
Where the blue men, Am Fear Gorm,
Steal the souls of sailors
From ever finding land.

In this forest,
A hundred miles given
To ground,
The haunted voice
Sang of landscapes lost,
Sons and husbands
Pulled down in the deep;
The deep of sea;
The deep of earth.

Cold slid uninvited
Beneath the skin.
Silence came at last
To the woodgrove
Where only dimness
Rose from the hearth-pit,
Light and shadow
On the long-trunked trees.

In this place,
The veil thinned
Between here and nowhere.
Trees, like masts,
Shone with St Elmo’s fire
While the ship of night
Heeled before a thousand winds.

© BH 2012

I've written a few pieces for Gill Russell's work over the years. This is for her installation, Sòrn, part of the Where Long Shadows Fall project for Cairngorms National park. Sòrn is a light and audio installation in Strathmashie Forest and I couldn't resist making something to fit the place and the work. It's just an impression. What I remember of the night of the Lantern Walk on 22nd December last. Elemental nature with the crowds dispersed. And, yes, there was a star.