Travelling in the wilderness
around Christianbury Crag
The Debatable Lands
the Black Lyne and the White Lyne meet
like a divining rod
to form the River Lyne.
To make your way through the forest
where I once heard the first cuckoo in spring
so many years ago
you must follow the yellow markers on the trees
if you’re not skilled with map and compass, much like me
you could so easily get lost
and yet I loved it
for that very reason
– isn’t that
a little bit (even a lot) like life?
We wander through it
without map or a guide
and search for our divining rods
or yellow markers
to show us the way
before we realise that the divine
in us is our peculiar guide:
there are no black and white lines
in our minds and for this I do think,
it’s wildest there.
© Experimentsinfiction 2020, All Rights Reserved
About this poem
Writen for dVerse Poetics: travels in the wild. Sarah is hosting, and has given us a choice of lines with which to title our poem, all taken from the book ‘Surfacing’ by Kathleen Jamie. The first line immediately appealed to me, and I went for a walk with it.
Though a managed forest, the Kershope forest on the border between Cumbria, Northumberland and Scotland, has the feel of a true wilderness to me. It was once home of the infamous Border Reivers, in the debatable lands between England and Scotland, where the border was remarkably fluid and farms were often plundered by this band of outlaws in this untamed land. Many Reiver names survive in and around my native Cumbria, and some have spread all over the world, and even made it to the Moon (Armstrong is a Reiver name). The word ‘bereaved’ comes from the same route as the word ‘Reiver:’ ‘to reive’ meant ‘to rob or to plunder,’ and often in the case of these Borderers they would plunder the lives of those whom they robbed.
As for the names of the two tributary streams flowing into the River Lyne – I just love them, I think there’s something Lynchian about a landscape containing both a ‘Black Lyne’ and a ‘White Lyne.’