Sam Smith

A Shifting Gauze of Light

Edged with pointillist grey a dripping forest day with green underglow. Ahead of me small unrecognised birds fly out of mist and into mist. A piece of shattered tree, like a bird's broken wing, sticks out of rain-flattened grass. To either side, within this skyless cloud, occasional part-faces on shoe-brown trunks watch me walk by. All is quiet and smudged strange, as known and alien as one's own under-skin sinews and veins.

Another small bird flies out of mist and into mist.

Certainty is craved, something solid for the mind to hold onto. But here, step by step, are only part-formed thoughts, thought of a thought, one that goes no further. Like water lines when poured into a white basin become quickly settled, stilled, blank. Expectations are never quite met, moments missed. 

Another small bird disappears into the grey between the part-trunks.

This timber road though is as remembered – pine trees and cliff to the left, heath grass under power lines the other side – and here I am again walking in a between place; road behind, road ahead; and in this moment newborn aware again, all to be made, to become, past and future as doubtful as sense.

Invisible Planet

‘Now and then he lifts his eyes to the sky or the wooded hills and his mind catches at an impression which never becomes a thought, but something between a picture and a tune in his head…’ Edward Thomas

Away from city chatter
		self dramas
words without substance

all I can see here now
is massed wet bracken
		conker brown 

		I turn to autumn's chirr
		from tree-hidden fieldfares

The soil has compacted under millennial feet
beginnings and endings beyond human time

I find myself looking
	at the way spiky mountainside pines
try to hold onto the floating-by mist

and the way the grey mist holds onto the light 
		obscures the sky

Upon the moss-green glow
		of the forest floor
are groupings of yellow white fungi
		like clusters of suns
		planet invisible

Isolation: a semi-precise reckoning

Bright summer rain splashes silver
				amongst the everywhere green

A round gap in a twig dense hedge
has a grey squirrel using his own fawn-speckled tail
		curled double
		to shelter under 

		Squirrel espies me
		unfolds tail			and goes 

I quicken my pace to the thick cover of the conifers
				catch my breath

Ranked along the floor of this spruce plantation
are round moss-coated stumps
		like so many grave markers

Whine of tinnitus in this needle-soft silence
fir-density dimness compressed by
	so many squat and crowded conifers
	has me go seek taller trees

As I arrive dripping so does a wind find
		the tops of these lodgepole pines

					Part-fallen trunks
			white-scarred and criss-crossed
	rub against their still alive supports
each fresh gust having them sound two notes
				one groan
				lower than the other
		then a relaxing back 

Sam Smith is editor of The Journal magazine and publisher of Original Plus books. Author of several novels and collections of poetry, he presently lives in Blaengarw, South Wales.    

Flights, Issue Three, December 2021