smoke screen    fragments

(Ayrshire to Galloway)


Tarfessock   (697m)
from sunlight under upturned layers
through vapour     afoot in grass

turned up     underfoot
a canister shucked from a rucksack
its shining pin, unloosed     a smoke screen

xxxxxxxxxxxxcall it grenade, hand
xxxxxxxxxxxx(call it L83A2)

split branches, loosed   (agency, human)
in this treeless    (call it) training ground
bivouac detritus ditched by squaddies
erratic        between granite boulders
ice-carried towards us

xxxxxxxxxxxxcall it brae or rig
xxxxxxxxxxxx(call it NX413 888)

a tumbled wall
above the map’s last contour
clouded-in     780m on Kirriereoch
xxxxxxxxxxxxcall it lost     (spot height 786m
xxxxxxxxxxxxa pinpoint in a smoke screen)

the descent, a bearing     unsighted
a broken wall      fence posts (e)merging
each next (NX414 870)     obliterated
where iron disintegrates in pooled lead shot

to blocks of forest     a river crossing
(NX388 877)     safe over      (call it safe
thigh deep in pooling dark)

to take high tea on the high track
(black with seeded rolls)      (NX388 881)
rain splintering      quartered
by our headtorch beams     (call it black
seeded with light   as if through driven snow)

to find the road (un-numbered)      cloudbound
each next diamond to diamond sign
a lit flare in full beam


from Uncommon Place, Shearsman 2019