PART OF THE Our Tongues Taste Shapes and Angles ISSUE
‘Our tongues taste shapes and angles…’
Out on the moors,
where I had not walked for thirty years,
I found a skeleton
and thought of you.
I took its horns
I took its ears
I brought away the snails
that sat upon its skull.
From the wastes
peat and heather
I stole away
with cochleas, seashells
and piggy snouts.
And, though abstractions do not travel well,
I carried off
the logarithmic spirals –
the shapes that form
and the precious wenteltrap.
Then, last of all,
(though there were only two)
I plucked the trumpet-lilies
from the fragile bones
and brought them back, for you.
My friend Will tells me
that water has a memory –
the angle of the molecule
So he says.
But I remember the light on the river –
river we called it.
The black peat water from the hills
is a dark burn flowing
through many years into the sea.
A drunk man gave us a bottle
and we drank the Sweetheart Stout,
fishing from the undercut bank.
The ancient eels in the black pool
tangled lines and stole hooks.
We’re mostly made of water, Will says.
Which of us, he asks,
has not felt a yearning passion
for a river, for a loch,
for a waterfall. I don’t reply.
Following the burn
on day-long explorations
looking for the source,
we came down from the hill
when the light was gone from the sky.
Years later, not looking for anything,
but resting high on a mountain,
I see a silver trickle running down
the face of the rock,
sinking into the damp black ground.
Our tongues taste shapes and angles,
And when we drink
we taste the memories of the water.
I lick the wet rock. It just might be true.
Gavin Francis is an award-winning writer and GP. He is the author of four books of non-fiction, including Adventures in Human Being, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and won the Saltire Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award, and Empire Antarct …
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