This week our Friday Poem is ‘Big Sky’, from Short Days, Long Shadows by Sheenagh Pugh.
In ‘Big Sky’ the overwhelming vastness of the sky is viewed as if for the first time, at a distance from the claustrophobic trappings of the everyday. We are catapulted to the ‘great ragged brush-strokes of cirrus’ and further still, to the ‘cluster and prickle’ of planets.
Short Days, Long Shadows is Sheenagh Pugh’s twelth collection, and takes her into a new, northern landscape, the Shetland Islands, with poems steeped in the wilder weathers and views of rugged coastlines, sweeping sea-vistas and the hardy historical characters who have inhabited these lands.
Unbroken by forest or town, this skyline
all hills and ocean: you look up
and your gaze, stopped by no branch, no office block,
overflows with sky, too much to take in
even when you turn slowly in the circle
of green and blue. Who knew how vast
cumulus could boil over, or how sweeping
the great ragged brush-strokes of cirrus,
or, at night, how many bright worlds,
hundreds of years away, cluster and prickle
above our heads? It is as if,
having lived all your life in the jewelled oval
of a miniature, you stepped into a frame
the size of a gallery wall, a landscape
where a few small figures, lost against distance,
seem to be looking for the way out.
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