(from Kissing It All)
I am sleeping in the van
on a remote headland in Orkney.
The headland is at the end of a farm-track
which winds its way here from where
the single-track road ends.
The single-track road has, in turn,
led on from another single-track road,
and at the other end of that single-track road
is the middle of nowhere.
I sit in the van, which rocks gently
from the constant buffeting of the wind
sweeping in from the great northern seas.
I gaze out at the impossible beauty
of a midsummer sunset,
at a panorama of sea,
other islands, islets,
the immensity of an ever-changing sky.
All I can hear
is the call of seabirds,
the breaking of waves on the rocks below.
From here, the city I live in seems
some diseased imagining,
born of some other nightmare world.
Half a mile away there is a house.
One day I stop to talk with the woman
who lives there with her dogs.
She is elderly and South African.
But how did you get here? I ask,
gesturing at the farm-track,
the twisting single-track roads,
the half a planet that stretches back
beyond them to her homeland.
Oh, she says, as if it explains everything,
I came via Barnsley.
© Steve Pottinger

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