Good Friday, 2013: Driving Westwards
On this shared road westwards
where Donne thought deep into faith,
the car kicks down a gear and the
A5 unspools its tune like ferric tape,
the tyres’ slow hymn on tarmac,
perhaps I dare to think of hope;
on the cusp of winter’s long tenancy
wondering if, when, spring come again;
if, after this austere new ice age,
we can ever know what’s really been lost.
The Roman road’s shattered spine
now arches through a wayside hinterland;
small towns pick-pocketing each other,
stripped of their old callings and clinging
to name alone; the setting sun shatters
between pylon and gantry, local colour
bled out into warehousing valleys,
artics shunting a service economy
from hub to hub, supplying demand
in a strategically-decommissioned landscape.
Into the westerly sunset – at Donne’s back
the weight of imagery, of blood and thorns,
he almost dared not to turn and face.
In my rear-view, the heartlands of old beliefs,
handed-down songs; my own forming:
the alternative, a future that wasn’t a dirty word,
if only we could build it, cradle to grave,
with our minds and hands and hearts.
The cruellest month begins with the cruellest
of jokes; you wake to find that hope’s flown.
Deeper westwards, and into the embrace of
slate rising, Donne’s route drops in dying light
and soars, at last, as he prepares to glance back.
On the radio, Amy sings the urban blues, the engine
gulps back the miles; we run on, away from
or into trouble, into the darkest of nights.
Bring your hopes and your proven fears,
keep a kind eye out for your fellow traveller:
we might need each other more from now on.
Jane Commane was born in Coventry and lives and works in Warwickshire. Her poems have been published in Tears in the Fence, And Other Poems, The Morning Star, Iota and Anon and collected in Best British Poetry 2011 and Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam. She is editor at Nine Arches Press and co-editor at Under the Radar magazine, and also a creative-writing tutor who has taught workshops in an array of unusual places, from museums and walled gardens to castles and riverbanks.