Sunday, February 23, 2020

Remembering Inverianvie

Sometimes the walks we remember are failures according to the standard measurement of reaching a destination. 

This map and text record an episode in the road north when we attempted to reach  Loch a' Mhadaidh Mor, the bigger wolf loch, following the Inverianvie River.  It was not a sensible walk for someone with M.E., but it was the walk the poet wanted to attempt. 

The drawings were first exhibited in Day of Access (Travelling Gallery, 2019).


pulling my legs
along with my eyes
drawing a straight line
in-between grey-
clitched boulders
and tarry puddles

walk on, walk on
when your boots
get bent           
walk on, walk on         
to the white noise
of the waterfall

walk on, walk on
with a dream
of the lochan
walk on, walk on
as far as the name-
lost glen

walk on, walk on
kist beneath Carn
an Lochain Dubh
walk on, walk on
sensing skyline
after skyline

walk on, walk on
part way up Inverianvie
or part-way down
walk on, walk on
wherever we are now
I can go no further

letting go the loch
I pour the tea
thinking of Tom
still giving illumination
as language flickered
and dimmed

Extract from a long poem reflecting on the road north, a year-long journey through Scotland, guided by Matsuo Basho’s Oku-no-hosomichi. The journey was a collaboration with Ken Cockburn.

The poem includes a lyric from Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee’s Walk On, and phrases from the late Tom Lubbock’s memoir of living with a brain tumour. Lubbock’s loss of language paralleled my exhaustion in a glen bereft of names. Failing to reach the loch, I was reminded that Basho records similar failures, and sometimes embroiders descriptions of places he never reached. the road north sought an equilibrium between (very) short walks and nominated viewpoints, informed by our experience of Neolithic dùns, follies and contemporary huts or ‘temples’.

These posts are published as part of a year-long artist in residence, funded by Paths for All.

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