Adam Thorpe

The Strandir coast begins with a dirt track,
the guttural end of tarmac in a waste

of bared rock, grass and scree,
and empty coves where great white trunks

have floated from Siberia: they litter
the vast and stony strands

like matches if seen from afar, but down
among them now they block our way

in booms of perimeter barriers,
logs pale as the long drowned,

stripped of bark to the white of washed-up
sea-tangle, unburied thigh-bones.

Some have mortises in them, like masts
ripped of their tenons from a stricken fleet;

all are dead straight, glittering with salt,
rubbed smooth like something someone

wishes to be lovely. I don’t quite understand.
Are they overspill from Russian lumber yards,

or the tide’s natural kill, taken out of trade
and odyssey? Or a sign, possibly,

of some deeper injury, like precocious
icemelt? Up here in the north

of Iceland, anyway, it all seems clear:
the land is flat, tufted by grass and thrift,

buttressed by the odd outcrop, and stretches
bare of trees to the horizon, which is always

the sea … no houses, cars, wires or people
except for us two, feeling as though

we’ve finally come to some
personal typology, some intimate edge

and that we’re almost at the start
once more, shivering in mid-summer cold,

locked-on for good to a second life
where all we do is stride through sedge

and smell what we can eat on the wind.