Memory by Lizzie Ballagher

Somewhere in the hemispheres’ tight folds,
In the cavernous enormity of inner space:
Certainty, bedrock.

Above it, a warm inland sea,
Uncharted reefs, shoals shifting in unseen currents stoked
By the blazing core;
And over these again, the stratigraphic record
Of shale & soil. And of sacred soul—
Lost foot- and fingerprints, frond and feather-prints,
Fossils ossified, lithified in the lowest ledge, all hidden
Under drifting dunes, dissolving marl; the scoured sandstone
Of inner deserts, abandoned coastal plains;
All hidden under mountain ranges worn
To dusty stubs by time & tide & tempest.

A heave of memory
And the earth churns up, turns over:
Lifts, tilts, dips, jack-knifes, splits, is cloven
Until my spirit quakes.
But springs, lagoons soak through;
The subterranean groundwaters of joy
Bubble out, well up
Carving channels & runnels for light,
For comprehension of the unfathomable
Chaotic & uninhabitable world
Of what is past.

Here the level ribbon of time
Is rinsed & crimped, furled & unfurled,
Pulsed, pushed, hurled
As life’s pyroclastic flow sheds out,
Spreads out another layer
And another & another.
All strands & faults are weighed
Down, pressed down: overflowing
Far beyond a full measure
Where vaults & galleries echoed once
With emptiness.

Still, deep below the landscape long grassed over,
Somewhere in the hemispheres’ tight folds:
Steadfast bedrock.

***

A published novelist between 1984 and 1996 in North America, the UK, Netherlands and Sweden (pen-name Elizabeth Gibson), Lizzie Ballagher now writes poetry rather than fiction. Her work was featured at the 2017 Houston, TX, Poetry Festival and also appears intermittently in South-East Walker Magazine and Poetry Space. Her poetry has also been published in magazines in England, Ireland and the US. Two of her poems have recently been nominated by Nine Muses for the 2018 Pushcart Prize.

Having spent all her life in editorial and teaching work, she is a long-time member of the UK Society of Authors. She lives in southern England, writing a blog at https://lizzieballagherpoetry.wordpress.com/

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