Questions is a collaboration by Lucy Kempton and Joe Hyam. Poems are based on questions drawn from an agreed starting question and formed by answers, which contain and inspire the next questions. In response to Lucy's first question, Joe kicks off. This follows our earlier work in Compasses, archived here, where Lucy's photographs illustrate Joe's series of 50 sonnets under the title Handbook for Explorers.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Cool in the bright air?

You, there in the bright air, are you cool?

I would be, right up there
among the glass-sharp crystals
of ice and octane fuel, dust and minerals,
jet trails, comet tails and blue-white angels
of the upper air,

with earth and all its mess
far off below, its mucky pigments,
bones and hides and dung and sweat,
and self-preserving urgent flesh, invisible
to my frozen, naked eyes.

But no.
I'm still here, on the ground,
just blood-heat, thank you, midway,
contained within an ambient landscape
(grassland and some scattered trees...)
my dampened, stubby-fingered hands
filled with red ochre, and charcoal from the fire,


'What on earth shall I draw today?'