TELEVISION has made impotent gods of its viewers.
You may be familiar with the situation: you are watching a disaster, natural or otherwise, on rolling news, the perspective that of a passing deity – and yet there is not one thing you can do. It’s a dread sensation caught well by Kona Macphee in her new collection What Long Miles (Bloodaxe, £8.95). “The Great Wave” appears to be inspired by the extraordinary footage taken during the tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011.
Is this the God’s-eye view? – to be up
beyond the surging play of danger
in a chopper’s miraculous poise on air,
tracking the furred edge of a wave
that burgeons inland, mantling these leagues
of naked ground with a rough, wet pelt,
a clabbered fur of structures
smitten to their fractured elements,
knots of loosed earth, tangled isles of fire?
Or is it the mote of a small white car
dithering there on the low road
like a dazed beetle, this, that way,
and you above, screaming Turn and drive!
Turn and drive!, your voice drowning
in the saved roar of the blades?
• You can borrow What Long Miles from the Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Edinburgh EH8 8DT. Tel: 0131-557-2876, e-mail email@example.com or see www.spl.org.uk.