Laura Potts – The Night Country

‘The undiscovered country from whose bourn

No traveler returns’ – Hamlet.


Old winter hour, gloam and the glow

of this last evening fire, after the time

of the cold and away from my last-gasp

hourglass and this passing grey; after

the far-cast dust of my day when the half-

light fields breathe dark in the dusk,


from this terminal night and the drums

of Carthage rung in those my passing bells;

out in the darkland dells where the dead

lambs bleat, from the moorside wells

where the madmen sleep and the sun

does not tear into rooms anymore;

where no morning comes, and the lungs


of the hills rise black in the smoke. Oh,

glow of the land on the night’s far-side

where the lantern-light and the lightning

spine are the time of childhood alone,

yesterday’s echo in my broken-bell

throat, and the stardrop ponds where I

rocked and rolled and used to laugh

show a burnt and black-lipped Medusa.


Remember this last: that after the snap

of my hospital heart, that after the stars

in my eyes dim dark and the nightjars long

in my absence cry, I’ll take all of the feet

of the fields in my stride. Up and out

of the night country, with all of the valley’s

white rage at my back, I’ll tear up the forest,

the fire, the fog-fallen towers and flute-stem

flowers which rise through the cracks of these

churchyard bones. This home slows to black,


and I won’t look back.


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