The Gateway Between the Worlds

This poem was written at the behest of Helene Williams for the performance at the end of the pebble formation known as The Street in Tankerton, Whitstable.


On the threshold of the horizon
In the betwixt and the between of this liminal landscape
Where these two ancient rivers meet and merge into the sea;
Where the land invades the sea and the sea invites the sky
At the gateway between the worlds;
What ghosts may linger, what ancestors may wander
And mingle with the memories
Of those who are still alive?

This wide Estuary,
The rivermouth that breathes the wind
Along the North Downs to Bromley South
To Bermondsey and Southwark;
The river of air that enriches the brain,
That fills the lungs and rings the blood
And keeps the City alive:
What history does it carry,
What dreams does it remember,
What hopes and thoughts and incantations are carried on the breeze?

Does the English Channel channel the English
Like a psychic at a séance?
Was the English language planted here
Amongst the rocks and trouble here
To put down roots and send out shoots,
To delve down deep
And crawl and creep
To make this land its own?

And those of us who are gathered here
At this opening in Time
In the ever changing present
At the gateway between the worlds,
Are we not also mystery,
Part liturgy, part history,
Of untraceable ethnicity,
Elemental, elegiac, poetic, prosaic,
Earthbound and roaring,
Secretive and soaring,
On our own and holding hands
With one as lonesome as we?

For this is an interdimensional portal
At the crossroads of the Evening,
Where elemental creatures meet
And quest secrets from the deep.
And when we are born we are born from Earth,
And when we die we return to Earth
And as we live we give thanks to Earth
For the blessings of the day.
And the breath of life it is from this Earth,
And the joy of life it is from this Earth,
And the springs of life are in the Earth,
Which we can never trade away.

And the Earth it never ponders, never questions, never reasons,
Never adds up or takes away, never scorns and never treasons,
Never gives up, never gets sad, never gets lonely, never grows old,
Never tires of its duty, never gives up on its soul,
Never wakes up in the morning not wanting to get out of bed,
Never falls asleep late at night off its box and off its head,
Never mourns for the loss of things it held onto for too long,
Never lies about its feelings, is never false and never wrong.
It's never early for an appointment, never late for a date,
Doesn't murder, doesn't torture, doesn't tell us how to hate,
It never makes a promise it knows that it can't keep,
Doesn't put down, nor turn its back, nor sell itself too cheap,
Doesn't have self-pity, never makes a fuss
Because these things it knows we bring
And it can trust it all to us.

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