A sun lifts up the floating ground;
the grass goes orange then goes green again
and stays green; the mostly cloudy sky
repeats – the clouds have cartoon eyes
and smiles, which I wasn’t expecting.
A cluster of palm trees is taking everybody
by surprise, waving their approaching branches,
gesturing for help.
Carnivorous plants stretch up
and open out their mouths, alike but also not
alike, doubles and near-doubles, like the twin lakes
in the valley whose oval surfaces have borrowed a
religious colour scheme, the one suggesting the other
as if holding it in memory.
I get the feeling I’m about to learn
something, the kind of knowledge you gain at
great expense to yourself and those around you
but which nevertheless comes in handy, time and again,
proving its value. I make a complete pause, peering
strategically ahead towards a huddle of de-leafing
trees: the used terrain behind us has begun
to somehow eat itself.
In one version of what happens next,
I make a choice to leap, unambiguously,
into the empty space beyond, gathering momentum
as I steadily outrealm myself.
In this version begin what seem like intermittent
snows, melting instantly on contact with the landscape’s
terraced floors, attracting the attention
of a snap of razor-feathered birds.
And maybe it was also like this there,
that time, for you, deciding what to do
and in which order to do it, the clouds changing
their functions – snow now rushing up to meet them
and be carried off elsewhere – the twin lakes finally
overflowing and becoming one lake, unlikely, you may think,
but we should probably get used to that, peering
strategically ahead towards the unresponsive fields,
calling to them, time and again, asking Can you hear me
now? and How about now?
ROWLAND BAGNALL is a writer and poet from Oxford. His poems, reviews and essays have appeared in publications including PAIN, PROTOTYPE 1, PN Review and The Los Angeles Review of Books. His debut collection, A Few Interiors, was published by Carcanet in 2019.