Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Josephine Dickinson: 6018

At Hartford Connecticut a man steps out on the tarmac,

one foot in front of the other, as the plane begins

to move. Above Hartford a wooded hilly landscape, a great 

river. Smoking water. Ripples in the earth covered with heather,

a patchwork of rivers, lakes, a huge expanse of water, 

then a really massive body of water with waves and no 

apparent end. At length there’s a creek that looks like 

a fish, with landings as gills. Ground is flat and regimented. 

Patchworks in between long highways. Another wide shore, higher up,

flecks of clouds and waves barely visible. The far shore,

a pointing finger promontory. Various small lakes, each one darker

and deeper than the last. Many round lakes that look like

birds. Reddish wrinkles ruche the patchwork.

Clouds dance on the vapours, then a narrow isthmus mouth

and a huge whale shaped creek pierces an expanse of water

shadowed by clouds, many tiny ripples a long way off.

The far show (sic) is a clean line swooping curving thin

yellow promontory and a more patched patchwork of land crossed

with many intersecting highways. Squares within squares. Swoops

a diagonal double highway across the lot, a pucker, a scar

leads to a labyrinth of flyovers, parking lots and a black shored

river. Green dark patches of trees arise, snaking highways looping

back on themselves. Grids, sequins, tiny splashes and puddles, many

making meanders across a land thickening with dark trees. Near

the horizon, not far down from the horizon a gash

is filled with water and a thick weeping runnel kikalls

all over. Many white oblongs, one long straight highway. The

rectangles become greener, the grids softer, and at the corner cluster

habitations, few trees, many rusty and green. Fields alternate many

shades of brown. One rectangle of autumn rusty foliaged rustle

of trees. More and more rusty foliage. Larger rectangles as

we swing round and lower. A large wide river with white 

boats? The river has a T-junction and a delta system

as we approach somewhere. A round, deep-green pond. Many

brown rectangles long and large and ridged houses in labyrinthine

estates. A golfing green, a yellow, scraped out quarry, shimmering

green lakes in a string of pearls, shadows and blazes of

trees. A green lake with light green blooming algae.

White boxes, low rectangles of buildings, a huge double highway,

red trucks, trees yellowing and a massive water river with vegetation

and standing bridge. From MSP we are flying into the setting

sun. Trees and residential avenues, fringed green pools reflecting trees.

It is a place of wetness and swamps, brown and marshy,

a place of wild rice paddies. Habitations thin out. We rise

higher, and a fine mist rests on the rectangular flat patchwork

lattice Mondrian. A huge band of water bends into a delta

system in the mist. Banked up clouds scud past. Layers, 

turquoise pink, deeps, apricot silhouette, majestic caverns, 

long slate-grey shapes, stripes, dark spills, long, the earth cinches,

bunches up, it is sap green, a ramrod road like a dowsing

wire stretched across. Swept brown canyonous surfaces, pink 

veils racing across, very black holes, lakes fringed in white.

The ground is more and more wrinkled with clouds banked up on 

top in level humps. Tiny streaks of highways, apricot glow as 

we draw near the setting sun, ever nearer. The reptilian wrinkles 

broken by the occasional dragon-green pool. Cloud surfaces, hog’s 

back, echo the land surfaces beneath them. Dry meandering river-beds,

black basins, lakes, red scar, a thin streak – is it a road?

Far off, a silkily snaking river. Much more finely wrinkled,

the horizon is rimmed with warm pink merging with gold.

Long gashes and canyons in the earthcrust. The clouds level out.

The first glimmering light, then another, then a tiny streak 

of lights together under the canopy of cloud, more and more

little groups of lights in the wilderness, the impossible,

thin as constellations in a night sky. Eyes. Is 

there a lighter grey sea or lake down there, known 

by its total smoothness and flatness? Only a soft apricot line 

remains above the horizon. We have chased the setting sun,

but it has eluded us. The opulent orange band intensifies

over the darkening land, where there seem to be no lights

to break the dusk, a dark land with gashes, some

of them in the distance, water-filled. A plume of smoke,  

conical, alone in this vast space: no, it is cloud – no,

firelight. Further on, a single light, a solitary light in 

this vast wilderness. There is no other light. The horizon 

colour, as we leave it far behind, breaks into two segments 

of red and gold. Much further on, another light. This 

new light turns up, breaks up into a little smattering of 

lights. After a long time, another tiny group of lights.

I look back and see another little line of lights. 

Then another single light slowly comes near – and it’s a little 

cluster, and a little way off is another smaller one, 

and a huge mountain between us and them. A great 

spine of lights. Grey, blue mountains, jagged and piled up 

like leftover blocks from a builder’s quarry. The lights, now 

near, are three or four streets at angles to each other,

bent in an L shape. More mountains approach. Occasional lights

here and there in the dark valley, and, directly below,

the mountains are pale blue.Is it snow? Whipped up

peaks in the distance, real gatherings of lights – cities, towns, 

against the deepening umber of the sky, glittering conurbations. It 

is a vast plain of golden lights, not dazzling, not 

everywhere, but gathered as in jewelled nodes

or spread-out lobster-like living creatures. A white shape glows

unlit or as if unlit below us threaded with beads

of light. A thin black line of cloud runs across

the umber sky like a huge dendrite. Circles filled with lights, 

a lozenge shape of lights, a long highway linking it all,

another beaded necklace or bracelet, jewelled like Istanbul,

most of the surrounding land in darkness, just occasional lights,

and a long thin highway lanks its way across the whole.

The horizon has finally gone almost black. Barely visible, a 

blackish umber differentiates the sky from land. Another jewelled quilt 

of lights, a magic coat, a faint line of highway, orange gold and

silver lights, winking red lights and we are going into it, 

we are descending. Out in the wilderness these lights are 

all different colours and kinds like a starry sky. The 

sky has become more orange, temporarily vaulted by poles of black,

side to side. We are descending towards a chain mail 

of gold lights with a dark void in the centre 

of a Christmas tree shape and now cars pour down highways,

red lights of cars recede, a green opalescent pool is 

floodlit, blue lights everywhere as we land in San Jose


Josephine Dickinson resides in a remote area of the Pennines, a range of mountains in northern England, where she raises a small flock of sheep. Her volume of poetry Silence Fell was a New York Times editor’s choice book in 2007.

Copyright 2019 Josephine Dickinson

One comment on “Josephine Dickinson: 6018

  1. Vox Populi
    April 17, 2019

    Beautiful description!

    Liked by 1 person

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