Places of Poetry: STONE CIRCLE by Will Harris

Places of Poetry is a project which aims to use creative writing to prompt reflection about national and cultural identities by inviting contributions to the website placesofpoetry.org.uk, until 4 October. The project is open to all writers. This summer Places of Poetry will hold events across England and Wales, each site hosting a poet-in-residence and each poet contributing a poem from their residency to The Clearing.  STONE CIRCLE by Will Harris was inspired by Stonehenge and by Avebury; this is an extract from a longer sequence.

 

 

 

 

Nearly the middle of June the middle of

  the year when light at half-past two

    makes the stones though they

      can’t talk seem to you know

        especially when you see the mist

      roll in from the hills opposite says

    Tim you step over the ropes to

  where the bluestone altar maybe

would have been and time doesn’t stop

  but there’s a moment once you

    feel it it doesn’t go when time is

      fluid vocable very slow the

        middle of June the middle of

      the year ­and you stand there

    in the stones thinking or saying

  to yourself you’re not here

but I’ll be seeing you soon

 

 

 

At the part of the fence closest to the stones

   a family was taking selfies

the dad pretending to hold up a lintel

   they were Indonesian

disini said one here pointing where

   the daughter should stand

the grandma wore a pink blouse and sunglasses

   to guard against the grey day

Sue described the various reasons people had

   for coming here like the woman who

worked in central London and came

   here every year to see the sky

horizon to horizon everyone has their

   reason each as valid

Sue pointed out the North Atlantic lichen

   which was one reason we

couldn’t get nearer to the monument

   we weren’t that far from Southampton

it would have blown inland and

   because of the stones’ exposed

location on a flat plain latched onto them

   growing tufty Sue’s word over time

but it was sensitive you could see a patch

   that had been scraped off over

a hundred years ago and not grown back

 

   poets liken things to other things which

can lessen them because a thing likened

   is less singular and though I think

of you as singular comparison is useful

   you’re the semblance of things I like

yourself but pure likeness

   your hair smells like clean air and

the mole on your right shoulder

   makes me feel weightless and spore-like

 

as Andrew took photographs of me and Sue

   I wondered if I could believe

in anything not arbitrary I looked

   from one side of the horizon

to the other then at those tufts of green

   lichen on grey stone green grass

running down to the grey A303 where lorries

   groaned under the weight of what

they carried the air was full and weightless

   it was June you weren’t here

but I would see you soon

 

 

 

 

Will Harris is a London-based poet and critic and the author of the essay Mixed-Race Superman, published by Peninsula Press in the UK. He was a recipient of a Poetry Fellowship from the Arts Foundation in 2019 and his first full poetry collection, RENDANG, will be published by Granta in 2020.

 

The illustration is by Benjamin Bowen of Union Studio.

 

Poetry of Places is led by the poet Paul Farley and the academic Andrew McRae. It is based at the universities of Exeter and Lancaster, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England. It is underpinned by national partnerships with the Ordnance Survey, The Poetry Society, and National Poetry Day.

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