Foot-breathing on the coast path


This pamphlet was produced to coincide with a reading at Oxford’s Magic Café in 2003. The title poem refers to a meditation exercise undertaken on a butoh ‘landscape retreat‘ on the Devon coast.







Foot-breathing on the coast path

There are times when it doesn’t look so good,
when you sense that the unravelling thread
has no longer any purchase, anchorage,
sky hook; when the bonds between atoms
loosen and let in light and night-breezes
and the opaque certainty of things thins out

breath by breath, through the sole,
disturbing as little as possible the previously
unconsidered dust and beetles—the patterns
of shade and sunlight, good eye and bad
a crosshatched kind of tempo—feeling,
through all its motion, for the Earth’s still centre,

holding back the habit of striding—
each moment abandoned for the next—
pinning the panicked zig-zag flight of thought
to the long flow of oxygen
through tarsal, metatarsal, bone and tendon,
heel, arch, ball, toe; to the slow beat of the sea

stretched out like crumpled tinfoil, the prism of air,
the noiseless undulation of the cliffs;
with the unbearable simplicity of each step
a commitment to existence, each snapped twig a greeting,
each leaf a conversation, and the floating spiderwebs
a bridge from here to here.