The Way North
After Paul Flora’s Der Weg nach Norden II

The way north is a savage smile that zig-zags
the whole length of the page of ice.
You pause on the lip of its jaw
above dumb unspeakable black.
Across the void you dream
the flickering fireside of home,
and an armchair, Christmas-red,
books nudging your elbows,
whilst a rickle-of-bones-cat vibrates
on the haggard cushion by your feet.
The room smells of wood smoke and game pie;
the room smiles your mother’s smile.
Everything knows where it is in this room.
But the journey there is seemingly without end:
the cracked smile reverberates as far as the eye;
yawning, gurning, snarling wide.
Below your yellow pinched feet,
the ice beats its tribal gong
like the bell of a mighty, drowned ship.
You cannot pass
any more than you could grapple
your way up a skyscraper.
And should you fall,
your sleek cashmere coat will afford
no defence against the ice’s maw.
Walk into that crack, it’ll swallow
you like an oyster, whole.
Better to grow wings
and beat-beat the clouds away.
Then there’s a chance,
though small.



Originally from Scotland, Zoë Green lives and works in Vienna and Berlin. She’s been published in the London Magazine, Harper’s and Queen, Bandit Fiction and the UEA anthology. She did her MA in Creative Writing at UEA.