a habitation & a place

by uzwi

I’m always obsessed by a landscape. Since last year it’s two. Any little sandstone ridge like an island in upland heath, on a broad diagonal from Wolverhampton to Ellesmere Port. But also, now, the enchanted hinterland between the A496 and the Rhinogs in Gwynned. Abandoned farms the size of villages. Lost manganese mines not much bigger than animal scrapes. Bijou but contorted; gnarly but lushened by, presumably, the warm western sea; windy but always some shelteronce you get out of the laminar flow. There’s a real sense, in both these landscapes, of haunting: yet rarely by anything specific. Yes, it’s the trace of use. But the moment you try to imagine by whom, or begin to believe you might “bring it to life”, it slips quietly back into the twilight downslope, the wind-contorted tree. Every site is very calm, despite the things it must have seen. Even to say that is to say too much. At every site there’s something immanent—but that’s to say too little. Where everything you can say is either an understatement or an overstatement, a literalisation or a fiction, it’s not your place to say anything; however you describe yourself. You shiver with delight, get your coat out of your bag, and head down to the lights of Harlech or Malpas.

photo: Cath Phillips