The black tape of this long highway unspools across hectares, rubber and tarmac marking a steady four-four beat.
Wheat fields blink past, void, their boundaries reduced to chalky scars where hedges have been ripped out, featureless, no shelter for a bird, a hare. Harvest has left dry earth and stubble, a bristly mat, rough like coir. A line of trees stands out along a ridge, their crowns perfect green circles, lollipops, a child’s version of the world. In the distance, copses repeat themselves under the unvarying sky.
We could stop, pull off the road, walk its hot gravel verge, as if we might find picnic tables and a barbecue, an evening welcome. But something about this vastness is repellent, its carelessness for what has been removed, places once mapped on a far smaller, human scale. Then we see it, far ahead, standing against the horizon, gleaming golden in the baked amber of the fields. Is that a crucifix between its antlers, this a new instance of the stag spared by Saint Eustace, riding to the hunt, the vision that persuaded him to faith? The creature’s power is its composure, its stillness as it faces us, simple, heraldic, a pledge of safe arrival.
Imogen Forster is locked down in Edinburgh. She hopes that when times change she will be able to resume her activity with various poetry groups in the city, and travel beyond its stony streets. She holds an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University, and is busy on Twitter as @ForsterImogen.