New Mountains (or, Woman with a Blue Rinse)

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Where a scramble of wet paw prints
describes a recent canine hootenanny
a shrunken stooped lady in purple dressing gown
and slippers turns her patchy blue rinse
to squint at me while creaking uphill
clouds an unreal pink and burnt orange
candyfloss across an ageing turquoise sky

Walking, the house I imagined on the riverbed
appears two hundred yards up the road
irruptions in an in-carried map
that push places apart like
volcanic surges beneath passing feet
stretching the soil, new mountains, while
absent minds erase steps trodden
and insert whole bandstands of emotion
on sleepy street corners
where disgruntled long-haired tabbies
arch their backs among tumbling rocks
and Venus’s Navels, abandoned slopes
that have shrunken out of sight and retreated
off maps so long that if you walk into them
you might disappear, blink out of this scene
and into another’s moment of awakening
materialising, to their eyes, as an ancient woman
in an aubergine coloured robe
with a blue curled head and a cane
turning her head in amazement that
looks like sciatica and suspicion
vanishing around a corner again
and you return to your spot
which is now as wide as a sea
for everything you have seen in it

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