The Invisible Field




The Invisible Field

Beyond a gate emblazoned with padlocks
in a ghost territory of bracken and fencing
bootsoles smash downwards on concrete
and powerlines sing under the arch of pylons

Where the shepherd had a house from the master
two cows’ grass    pasture for sixty sheep on the hill
chainsaws fell upright stands of conifer
for chipboard    cellulose    rayon    newsprint
for boxes    fences    telegraph poles

The graziers were at first considered by the natives
as aliens and invaders of property
Abortive attempts were made to extirpate them

The soil of the plantings    rain-washed downwards
leached    ash grey    iron pan on the slopes
(salt and earth kept separate on the breast of the corpse)
the alkali of the spirit
the destructible granular body    graded and quarried

concrete    uplifted by mountains
where ice cup was    argent    spillage of cold
rasped over quartz mica
All this broken through    a saltire    engrailed
(The crest    a demi-savage
brandishing in his dexter hand a broadsword)

A torse of rock crushed and sectioned
one hundred and fifty tons an hour transported        
across submerged and treacherous regions
mixed with sand became the healing balm
on cableways slung from headmasts
three thousand cubic yards a week
eight and a quarter miles of concrete aqueducts
a hundred and four intake dams
section by section    the headwall
thirteen buttresses spanned by arches
In an escroll above    the motto THIS I’LL DEFEND

Upright upon the earth    the engineer
calculated the meanings of rock and water
Let concrete be the balm    Let water run
in the penstocks    Let energy equal light

Supporters    two highland men in belted plaids
in trenches of rock and mud  
incomers from war    at war with the earth
rainwashed    slipping beneath them
(the cast-off cladding the falling timber
the men bare-headed sweating shaken)
(anonymous but for the injured and the dead)

Section by section    the headwall
a memorial plaque one hundred and sixty feet high
all Proper    standing on a compartment wavy
whereon is the word LOCH SLOY

The slung cables sigh under the arch of pylons
The invisible field dwarfs the bungalow
a man and a woman fenced and netted
bodies disrupted    as mine is
passing beneath that charged singing

Let there be light in the dark regions
an end to black Mondays on Clydeside
an end to blackouts on washday in the tenements

And there was light:    far down Glen Loin
it burns over the nuclear secrets
over the shipwrecked yards
over my own boots on the road


poem, Gerrie Fellows
photography, Tom Prentice

The images show Loch Sloy hydro-electric dam and power station