A Hundred Steps

(Listen to the poem here)

I cannot find my head at times,

at least I cannot find the thoughts

I thought were in it.

It often happens when I’ve had a day of

reckless people reading speeches, horns a-blaring,

driving words in truckloads through

the middle of my brain, relentlessly at speed.

All my own whimsical and little notions

like wrappers near a busy road,

go flying up, up and away.

As I walk home, near sunset,

I am still busy looking for them in the less gardened

precincts of my mind, among the nettles and the

rambling bushes and the ponds and littered soil.

I walk wound tight in frowns,

hunched up, eyes down and when I come to the hundred

steps which separate me from the last short stretch of road,

I raise my head, something I have not done

for hours, to take them in before I take them on

and up at the top between the linden trees

there are some evenings when the sky is mauve,

magenta, lilac, indigo and violet – all the colours

at the rainbow’s end – so taut that if one had

hands and fingers long enough one could reach out and

just by grazing  them produce a chord

which I don’t have the power to imagine

but which would ring out so and for so long that people would

forget their doings, drop their change, discard their penny feuds as well

and come from over hills and lakes and rivers

for miles around, for hours they would come

walking through the night, long-stride

after long stride, wide-eyed,

with thoughtful faces guided by this

sound astounding chiming, rhyming

with the marrow in their bones

and on arriving they would cock their heads

to listen to the black tree boughs

still tingling with harmonics

and sit round fires, pore over picture books

and photographs and sift through bags of names

of things and feelings and relationships and attributes

and look at each other in a web

of glances inside which

we would ask ourselves-

What is it? What is that simple little

thing which somewhere we have all forgotten ?

                                                                                                            Phillip Hill 2007


(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from

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