The Marl Pits

It was a language of water, light and air
I sought–to speak myself free of a world
Whose stoic lethargy seemed the one reply
To horizons and to streets that blocked them back
In a monotone fume, a bloom of grey.
I found my speech. The years return me
To tell of all that seasoned and imprisoned:
I breathe the familiar, sedimented air
From a landscape of disembowelings, underworlds
Unearthed among the clay. Digging
The marl, they dug a second nature
And water, seeping up to fill their pits,
Sheeted them to lakes that wink and shine
Between tips and steeples, streets and waste
In slow reclaimings, shimmers, balancings,
As if kindling Eden rescinded its own loss
And words and water came of the same source.

Charles Tomlinson