Between One Day and Another

Cray knot image by Leslie NichollFrom A Crazy Knot


We are just on that verge
Between Autumn and Winter
We are just within that balance
When day is not yet night.
The air hangs over our heads
And shoulders; it is heavy
Still with smells, sounds and warmth
Here, between hill and lough.
From an early-ploughed field
Trailing wisps of smoke finger
Up through this patch-worked air
Then down again, reeking
Into the farmer’s hair and beard.
He piles more branches on
Then kicks white wood-ash
Across the naked, rippling earth.
A whisper of wind takes it.
Dove-calls issue from far trees.
Patiently, night eases down.
Sparks fan, flash, gasp and die.
A horse plunges his muzzle
Deep into the water trough.
He rises up, shocked and alert,
Diamonds radiating off pagan whiskers.
For an instant, car horns
And the sounds of engines
Marry with chanting voices,
With creakings of long-boat oars:
Holy men and warriors,
Harpers and poets, and old women
With cures for bodies and hearts
And souls, congregate all about
The flames
Paying witness to this one man
Tending his shivering ground,
Alone, intent, attendant to
The creeping fire, the crumbling flame.

From A Crazy Knot, a collection representing collaborations between writers and artists. Commissioned and published by Seacourt Print Workshop, in a limited edition of 100 handmade and hand bound portifolios and with an introduction by Maurice Hayes, who wrote, “The title itself (A Crazy Knot) is both word and image. John Hewitt’s ‘Crazy Knot’ is a metaphor for the rich mixture of culture and traditions on the island, for disorder, lack of neatness, tangle and confusion, and yet of closeness too and tightness, togetherness and through-otherness…

Kelt, Briton, Roman, Saxon Dane and Scot, Time and this island tied a craze knot.’ From John Hewitt’s ‘Ulsterman’

‘Between One Day and Another’, Sam Burnside, illustrated by Leslie Nichol, in A Crazy Knot, Seacourt Print Workshop, (Catalogue, 1996, pp. 1-2); catalogue and Arts Council of Northern Ireland touring exhibition of words and images. 1996-1997.