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Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Selection from Time in the Dingle
Philip Gross



These new poems complement and complete the sequence Time in the Dingle published as a chapbook by the International Poetry Studies Institute, Canberra, in 2015.

Their soundings

see through walls – thicker than walls,
the chain-mail darkness of inside the yew,
the holly, the dust-sheet drapes of ivy,

inwardness which only intricately
niggled gimlet-pricks of light get through.

And yet the plump and sudden.. what?
hedge sparrows? seem to pass
at a tilt, a hurtle, without let or hindrance.

Or they hold still, fill
the whole bush with their stillness –
just the ping-trace of their calls

to stitch the world together, space
to matter, and their own,

each other's, place in it.


All the contraries,

at play, in the dingle... Things it wants to be:
a busy lull, an airy womb filled with a shudder-
pulse of green,
                                            both too quick and too slow
to grasp by looking – listen, there's a depth
                      above us – a snug vertigo

with, now, that single bird-blip: the affectless
                            of sonar. It will find us.
too close, sometimes, too pressing in,
almost, to bear... Something

that's beginning, always,
                                                                  even as it ends.


This is the life

implicit, something being carried,
brought to term – so it figures
to such as us past breeding. (Oh,
            but the tweaks of the genes,
            still, on the servants’ rusty bell-pull
            in the old house, and the tinkling
            in the cellar far below.)

This charged space. Waiting.
But what would birth mean,
out of this, what spasm as what
            was implied becomes world
            and what was outside and beyond us
            sits in the palm of the hand,
            tiny, tight as a nut?


In his last year

he walked this way, daily. Nothing scared,
nothing startled, shrilled or jangled its alarm.

He made no dent in the air.

Though no one knew yet, he’d already gone that far.


Down time

in the dingle: the wild garlic has let itself go – well past its Best-By
anyway, who cares? As June ebbs, so the birdsong too
is a slack tide. The bright and brittle, maybe cutting, edge to it
goes blunt like the leaves' dulled green sunk in its own acquaintance.
One thrush holds the high ground longest but it's not a conversation,
only with himself. Then quiet. Moist heat. If the air had pages
they'd be curling at the corners. And the question is:
now that the whole place starts to turn away from you
and inwards, is the presence less or –
like the offish tang of garlic
wilting to digest itself –
just concentrating,


It takes me out

of myself, he would say. Stopped
mid walk, mid step almost, following
each chink of sound, all at once
to its several source.
The unseen.

Spreading out, the spaces in him,
between thought and thought and
himself, into a great

When the time comes, scatter me.



If I cried out, would hear me…? Rilke, if that’s a plea,
then no, not the birds any more than your angels,

not this unseen host, this constellation
of bright points of presence. What brings me

or you or anybody to a cry
means nothing in this bird-space, tree-space, prey-

or hunter-space except… attend
a moment: danger? or advantage? Then it could go on

(Fling this emptiness / out of your arms,
Back into the spaces/ into which we breathe...

unhindered: human weeping, wind, a distant
playground clangour soft as leaf fall, passing siren, rain.


It writes itself,

the dingle: scribble-pad
for the hithering-thithering
gnat flecks, the hoverflies’
quiver and twitch,
                                    some stray
imago flipped like a silvery
5p, heads-tails, into day-
long life...
                                    Praise be
to God’s rough workings,
sometimes bird-snack, some-
times intersecting, in a brief
spark, with a squint of light.



chorus...? No, rather the clatter of toolkits
            on echoing floorboards,
the measuring up of spaces in the day:
            the long ticking out
and snick back of a metal inch-tape,
then the tiny power tools out again.

Or earlier, the day still on the drawing board:
            the architects, extrapolating vectors.
Calculus of sound. An audible force diagram
            inked on the air. Close your eyes,
see it as dim blue-glowing graphics you can turn
and flex through three dimensions. Only

you are absent, you, dark matter, moving through
            that matrix, to be known
by the way the space distorts around you
            as you pass. Your only power:
to be the dumbness into which their sound
collapses. (All around you now, its splintering.)

To be the blind spot, larger today. And one day
            there's the whole wood, gone.



            Imagine that.

The sound of it.
Air's harp unstrung.
                                    A great