The cablecar

The silver box rose lightly up from the valley,
ape-easy, hanging on by its one arm;
in minutes, it had shrunk the town to a diagram,
the leaping river to a sluggish leat of kaolin,
the fletched forests to points it overrode.
It had you in its web of counterweights,
of circles evolved to parallel straight lines.

Riding the long slurs, it whisked you over
the moraine’s hopeless rubble. It had your heart
in your mouth at every pylon, where it sagged,
leaned back, swooped on. It had you hear how ice
cracked on the cable. It had you watch it throw
an already crumpled shadow of bent steel
onto the seracs. It made you think of falling.

By the time it lowered you back to the spread valley,
to the broad-roofed houses decorated with lights,
you could think only of what it was like to step
out, at the top, onto the giddy edge
of snowfields still unprinted, that pure blaze;
to be robbed of your breath by the thin air, by a glimpse
of the moon’s daytime ghost on solid blue.


‘The Cablecar’ from The World Returning (Bloodaxe, 2002), © Lawrence Sail 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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1Water

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2Calm sea at night

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3Rain at sea

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4Slack

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5Fanfares at Eger

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6Singer asleep

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7The artist at 81

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8Portuguese sonnet

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9The age of reason

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10Fountains

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11Proofs

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12Snooker players

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13The glimmering

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14Driving westward

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15Paysages moralisés

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16The Meat Commission, Kenya

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17Eating maize

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18Hammock journeys

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19At Possenhofen

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20A picture by Klee

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21Thinking of Klee again

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22Edenic

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23Air

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24The cablecar

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25As a bird

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26Another parting

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27The enclosures

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28Father to son

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29In the Bar Italia

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30from Ghostings

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31Recurrent

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32Hallowe'en lantern

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33from Out of silence

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34Trees uprooted

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35A leaf falling

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36On Remembrance Day

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37Sloes

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38White peach

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39A travellers' tale

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40Old men walking

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41In a dream

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42Not at the eleventh hour

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43Sea-marks

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