Altitude sickness

13 August 2018

I just got back from a holiday in Switzerland, where I jotted down the makings of this poem.

 

Altitude sickness

Up there, where

cloud inversions make valleys disappear while
you shower, and eddies of shrewd choughs reep
and glide above towers of rock which sleep
like piles of elephants in spearmint Stetsons,

and the Jungfrau, more astonishing than a boast
of Alpine engineering, changes outfit for tonight,
swapping her Yoda-hair bonnet
for a bow of rose-tinted Turkish delight,

and oracles capture zeitgeists – they would have us
believe – with their racism,
which is not so much out of the closet as
dry-cleaned for a Sunday flaunt,

we basked in the dusk of space between a quarter and
a fifth of a book, or perhaps a lifetime of cocktail hours.

But crawling home, the humble slopes of Dark Peak
hung their heads, and we slid
back into the hourglass fractions of the prosaic.

 

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