The Walking Cure

Do you wake up tired and stoke your flagging drive
with mugs of coffee silted strong and black
as you sit blank or doze and start until
the time when you must grind your gears for work?
Then take a hint from me, if only once,
and when the spring tips up its early light
unhitch your conscience, friend, and ring in sick,
and close your ears to that familiar tone
that carps up without pause to make a play
upon your better side. Did that soft gem
win you any wages but more grief?
You know I’m right: so fork out on a map
and hike. At first, no doubt, each step you take
is hampered by the dodgems of the crowd
or traffic jams that load the looping breath
and wind it tight around the sinuses.
Keep pacing long and long in dipping sun
and you’ll come slowly into places where
nothing works too hard at winning your
attention. Armed with thought and little else
to keep the growing silences at bay
you’ll find yourself near weightless and tuned in
to paths that curve smooth gradients of hills.
And if, before too long, you come alone
and tired to where horizon shows no sign
of what you left behind, you’ll stop and hear
a curlew’s muted dot-to-dot of sound
and twilight turns the dimmer switch. There
you’ll feel a question coming to the brink
and the only answer audible for miles
is oxygen being fed into your brain
by a pulse imploring you to listen.

From West North East (Longbarrow Press 2013).