earth shadow, Poetry

Matthew Barrow


We watch from the peace of our balcony
two figures climbing a mountain, a grey

craggy landscape beyond the woods. The two
climbers are walking a steep path, stooped

forwards and looking pressed down by rucksacks
that seem to lie heavily on their backs.

Who are they? A man and a woman, two
men, two women? Are they a couple, new

friends, old friends, siblings, parent and child?
Do they know this place or is this a wild

adventure, their first time? What does this vast
landscape look like from where they are? What pasts

have they left behind, in their families,
their jobs – what problems, what complexities?

People in the distance are like toys, like
characters in stories; watching them hike

unknown paths, we can imagine about
them – against those mountains, beneath those clouds

our tiny poignant humanity lies
right there in front of us, within the size

of the earth, nature, time, the universe.
These two people, on their own adventure,

with their lives and their busy minds, become
a focus for our imaginations;

our minds become reflective – not knowing
anything about them we start thinking

about humanity in the vastness.
They are playing that role for us, no less

philosophical themselves, I should think,
walking that mountainside – between chatting,

between tirednesses – between planning
the future stages of their travelling.

Matthew Barrow is originally from Gloucester but these days lives in London. His work has appeared in several publications including The Poetry Village, Runcible Spoon, The North and The Rialto. His website is

earth shadow

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