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After I Came Back from Iceland by Sheenagh Pugh

After I Came Back from Iceland

by Sheenagh Pugh

published in Poetry For the Earth, edited by Sara Dunn with Alan Scholefield, Fawcett Columbine, 1991

After I came back from Iceland,

I couldn’t stop talking. It was the light,

you see, the light and the air. I tried to put it

into poems, even, but you couldn’t write

the waterfall on White River, blinding

and glacial, nor the clean toy town

with the resplendent harbour for its glass.

You couldn’t write how the black lava shone,

nor how the outlines of the bright red roofs

cut the sky sharp as a knife; how breathing

was like drinking cold water. When I got back

to Heathrow and walked out into Reading,

I damn near choked on this warm gritty stuff

I called air; also on the conjecture

that we’d all settle for second best

once we’d forgotten there was something more.

Rock Hvitsevkur, Iceland

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