‘A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language
and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.’ Wittgenstein

Think of those who shaped signs
out of silence and followed them
with ear and tongue.

‘The earth was without form’
so one translation goes,
the breadth of it –

cut loose
from every item on the list.
But the place I want to get back to is now,

already then, replaced by now, and gone.
Snip off the past, snip off the future
and I fall to where there are no signs,

almost like the time I lay
in a Goan beach hut, stoned
and couldn’t remember my name.


River Wolton


Earth Records (3)

For many years I’ve been researching eagles
that now patrol what once were no-fly zones:
roadside grass, the roofs of Safeways and Lidls.
Exiles back on their European thrones,
sure as if gliding over Asian hills
and skeletons left in scraps of cloth,
it’s rare that they plunge. Are those circling drills
on the ascending thermals work or sloth?
How did the eagles come to be the thieves
of my attention? The regal rodent-eater
soars over the results its prey achieves.
Take the Petersburg serfs. As they served Peter,
they built but never nested in royal quarters,
names lost from the list of authors.


Alistair Noon

(from 'Earth Records', Nine Arches Press, 2012)

River Wolton grew up in London and lived in Sheffield for twenty years before moving to the Peak District. She is a recent Derbyshire Poet Laureate and works as a writing facilitator and creative mentor. She received a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2011 and is currently Writer-in-Residence with Writing East Midlands. Her second collection 'Indoor Skydiving' is due out from Smith/Doorstop in autumn 2013.

Alistair Noon has lived in Berlin since the early nineties, where he works as a translator. His poetry and translations from German and Russian have appeared in nine chapbooks from small presses. Earth Records, his first full-length collection, is available from Nine Arches Press. His pamphlets Across the Water, Animals and Places and Swamp Area and his translation of Pushkin’s The Bronze Horseman are available from Longbarrow Press. ‘Memoirs of Memoirs’, his essay on translation, travel and the Leningrad sinologist Vasiliy Alekseyev, appears here. Click here for Alistair Noon’s Archive of the Now page.