Clocks addled, wandering in long daylight to land’s end
where the Esk bends, we skip rocks, pile a cairn
of granite, sandstone, bits of glass, pocky curves, striped shards —
a river’s take from igneous hills where hide, flesh, bones are stilled.
On Whitsunday along the prime meridian, churchwalls muffle
prayer for farmer suicides, for split hemispheres of shepherd
sheep. Diggers trench field-long graves. Air transports a relentless slurry.
Thistled clearances hold burning flocks. Led by an invisible hand firm as
stones that incomers might pitch or cradle in, townsfolk
and villagers roll towels, stuff thresholds, lintels, jambs.
‘He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.’ ~ Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations ~Fife, 1776
I.M. Foot and Mouth epidemic, Britain 2001
Mary Gilliland is the author of The Ruined Walled Castle Garden (2020), winner of the Bright Hill Press Chapbook Competition. Recent poems and commentary also appear in The Fiddlehead, Stand, TAB, and Vallum. Honors include Ann Stanford and Pablo Neruda poetry prizes and a Stanley Kunitz Fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Alice Fulton has called Gilliland “by turns mystical and realist” with a vision “profound and enduring,” and describes the work in her newest book as “sinewy” and “nuanced”—“poems that understand earth—and consciousness—as gardens that no walls or enchantments can protect.”