The last five miles are elastic,
the river never bends out of view.
You can count the contours,
or the bridges, or the stiles,
but it'll never tally, never line up with the glimpse
of blue loch, under early April skies.
The water, which was always waiting, will welcome,
but you'll pass the bench without pause,
and the bluebells will drop their seeds.
The hare counts as hours, the deer as a day,
and you wonder if you can pare back enough
to cut out the moments that chime too loud.
Minutes disappear amongst trees,
and footsteps on repeat turn into noise,
until all that's left to do is walk.
You'll quicken perhaps,
cutting at the path, deleting all but the essential,
eyes fully set to a skyward clock.
The day stretches so far back
you can't remember where it started,
and before it's done you'll walk the same again.
Jessica Wortley is a writer and teacher based in the North East of England. Her first poetry pamphlet As if we Were the Trees was published in 2015. She is currently working towards a PhD in creative writing at Teesside University, where she is writing poetry and researching the links between nature writing and wellbeing. She also teaches creative writing to both children and adults.
The inspiration for Killing Time came from an intensive few days walking the East Highland Way from Fort William to Aviemore, where she covered eighty-two miles in three and a half days. Jessica is an enthusiastic advocate of the benefits of writing. She takes inspiration from the world around her, using the time she spends in nature as the starting point for much of her work.
Jessica's previous Poem of the Month was Transient.
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
Killing Time © 2018, Jessica Wortley: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.