Benchmark

Calum Taylor looks at the stars. Artwork by Luci Mullen.

268

I wasn’t sure when we looked straight up

To the flag of sky over our heads

Whether that pattern of stars was already there –

Sewn sparks, set from the sun –

Or was woven from our own making.

.

Then the river, cloudless, with its slow-acting stillness

Threw back the fractals, glinted,

And brought in new shapes:

Orion’s necklace, Leo’s crown,

.

Points of reference. Sites for new renown, perhaps,

Play into our eyes with that self-same reminder –

We make our own maps.

.

And this bench, here in its present state

Exists only for its surroundings.

Worn branch, canal barge, autumn tree,

Bridge. Glance. Twist of fate.

.

The pattern starts from you to there

And, breathless, starts again with me.

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You told me once under stations of starlight,

Spun me a thread that I can’t reel back

About a pattern, a series of shapes and signs,

Tiles upon tiles that carries on forever,

Sites and sights turning endlessly new.

.

That’s right here, up there,

All the things we can do.

Shallows upon depths, depths

Upon shallows, lights upon

Streets, skies beyond you.

All lies within reach the places we keep –

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You can’t split the eye from the view.