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Lightning Ghosts

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On Hearing a Recording of Emily’s Waterfall


‘I know not how it falls on me,

This summer evening, hushed and lone’


            Emily Brontë


‘on a day of sun and showers at Haworth’


            Lucy Dougan with Tim Dolin



Analogue raw water de nos jours

            spilling through

rock-grass-height nexus


exposing anterior

            edges weathering

ravine where volume


of spill fluctuates to retune

            chiffchaff interludes,

steady till it lessens.






Lightning Ghosts


I sense them in the air

when it’s said there’s

little or no chance

of a storm — they

are apostrophes

to themselves,

shaped like



This is a mundane

observation to offer

up when the flash

closes the light out —

that loss of speech

to pyrography.


Their leaders

follow and tap me —




I sense them

as hexagons —

an empty honeycomb —

stress per force and area.


How many euphemisms

can they sustain? Star picket.

Roof overhang. Plane wing.

Metal drum. Wheat crops.

Unable to reach the ditch

in time.


               The forests

I worship







John Kinsella is a poet, novelist, critic, essayist and editor. He is a Emeritus Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge.


Topic tags: John Kinsella, poetry



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Existing comments

A few weeks ago I visited Haworth and saw the gate Emily passed through on her way. There’s a plaque which has stood the test of time.

Pam | 26 September 2023  

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