I am trekking in the arid centre
where willy willies lift terracotta dust
onto my skin to stick by sweat
kilned by sun until I am claybound
I used to get stuck in the same traffic jam at the same motorway junction every morning.
swimming in gentle aquamarine
among kaleidoscopes of coral and fish
alongside soft white sand
strolled over by soldier crabs
I arrived in the office in the concrete block in the industrial park after Robert and Peter, Henry came next then Tim who brewed up.
tramping through tropical jungle
avoiding roots, stinging leaves and webs
where spiders which could cover your face
lurk in hope of smaller prey
Canteen lunch was roast, shepherd’s pie, sausages, stew and fish on Fridays.
rafting down a river
bumping off rocks
seeing flashes of electric blue
as Ulysses butterflies open their wings
I drank a lot of coffee to break up the day with trips across utilitarian grey carpet to the kitchenette and the toilet.
standing on a cliff
which drops to the sea
the beach widens as the escarpment
retreats from the ocean
We went to the White Hart together every Friday as if we would miss each other over the weekend.
surfing out to sea
across foaming breakers
fighting wind and tide
to reach the far horizon.
It took thirty-three hours on a cheap flight with seven stops in five countries and three continents.
As I expand into the spaces of this country
I realise I need to stretch this much
to get back to where I started
and to start again.
(previously published in Domestic Cherry, 2014
Jill Abram is Director of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen – a collective of writers who focus on craft, community and development – and a member of Tideway Poets. She grew up in Manchester and now lives in London, though went via Australia (among other places). She presents her poems regularly in London and occasionally further afield, including Ledbury Poetry Festival and USA.