The Bears in Yosemite Park
are busy in the trash cans, grubbing for toothpaste
but the weather on Mam Tor has buckled the road
into Castleton. A crocodile of hikers spills out
into a distant car park as the rain permeates
our innermost teeshirts, and quickly we realise:
this moment is one which will separate some part
or our lives from another. We will always remember
the mobile of seagulls treading water over Edale.
Killer whales pair for life;
they are calling across the base of the ocean
as we sprint for the shelter of the Blue John mine.
We know the routine. In the furthest cavern
the lights go out and the guide will remind us
that this is true darkness and these splashes
of orange and bristling purple fibre are nothing
but the echoes of light still staining our eyelids.
Back in the car we peel off our sticky layers
and the stacks of rain
are still collapsing sideways as we gear down into
Little Hayfield Please Drive Carefully. On the radio
somebody explains. The bears in Yosemite Park
are stumbling home, legged up with fishing-line
and polythene and above the grind of his skidoo
a ranger curses the politics of skinny-dipping.
This is life. Killer whales are nursing their dead
into quiet waters and we are driving home
in boxer-shorts and bare feet.
From Zoom! (Bloodaxe Books, 1989) Simon Armitage is an English poet, playwright, musician and novelist. He was appointed Poet Laureate on 10 May 2019.