I wouldn’t have her
Not for a moment.
There is nothing for her
here in this small, choking town
that thinks and knows of nothing beyond itself.
That time-baked city, Cezanne-tinted,
and all its faces, voices, promises
are hers, hard-earned and long awaited.
And in this quiet morning
I wrap her leaving round me;
feel its weight, and breathe.
After a protracted and stressful process, our daughter has finally been granted her student visa and can head off on Sunday to Aix-en-Provence for her third year of undergrad study, which she’s doing at Aix-Marseille University (the largest in France, with around 80,000 students). We’ll miss her terribly, of course; but I’m certain it’ll be a transformative experience for her, and I’m beyond delighted she’s taking this amazing opportunity. Bon voyage, ma chère fille.
You Hills have limits –
sides, slopes, summits –
I can measure and master
by muscle and mechanics.
Not so you, Winds:
without edges or apex
surrounding me, pounding me
tirelessly, full in the face.
But I’ll fight you –
together or one at a time –
with rage and resolve and refusal to quit
wherever, whenever you like.
Better you –
with your physics and physical pain
suffering to savour like single malt scotch
that ends when my feet touch the ground –
than the figments and phantoms
that stalk me inside
and I cannot outride, outwit or defeat
with training, or talent, or time.
– the driven, the diehards
the hardy and hungry
the lifers, high-milers
the ones old enough to know better
or too young and eager to care;
the addicts and regulars
gripped by a habit
hard-wired and hard-won
that nothing and no one can break –
glories in going out there in this
when people with brains and ordinary lives
sit inside tutting and shaking their head
glad of the glass between them and the fear.
Who but us
pits muscles and bones
skin, blood and tissue
against fast-moving metal
the rush and the rage
of a world that would rather we didn’t exist.
Who but us
always takes the longest way round
the hardest road home
spinning it out for a couple more miles
a few more minutes stolen and added to life.
The ones who go further
longer and deeper
not really caring if we’re understood
or that none of this makes any sense.
And while there’s a road
miles to be ridden
air to be breathed
who but us
would we want to be?