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.


Lawrence Sail

Lawrence Sail Reading from his Poems


2Calm sea at night

3Rain at sea


5Fanfares at Eger

6Singer asleep

7The artist at 81

8Portuguese sonnet

9The age of reason



12Snooker players

13The glimmering

14Driving westward

15Paysages moralisés

16The Meat Commission, Kenya

17Eating maize

18Hammock journeys

19At Possenhofen

20A picture by Klee

21Thinking of Klee again



24The cablecar

25As a bird

26Another parting

27The enclosures

28Father to son

29In the Bar Italia

30from Ghostings


32Hallowe'en lantern

33 from Out of silence

34Trees uprooted

35A leaf falling 36On Remembrance Day 37Sloes

38White peach

39A travellers' tale 40Old men walking 41In a dream

42Not at the eleventh hour