Dr Livingston writes to Stanley

by Sarah Lucas

I’ve been walking for hours in this wood where
the warp and the weft of the branches matches
the weave of my tweed jacket: close knit
as we were. My watch has rotted off.
I thought of steering by the sun but
I’m sure it spins anticlockwise here.
Or was that Africa?
Getting lost has become a recurring habit –
along with the malaria. Here
it reminds me of an Escher or an endless
Renaissance fretwork stepped out by deer
unafraid of fading light through wax pine needles.
Cold creeps around the telescoping sky,
my hands are knots, freeze clotted in the knuckles.
I want to go home and hear
the sharp crack of branches in a burning grate,
to potter and do old man things.
I don’t know where I am; before the daylight goes completely send
directions scrolled out in smoke signals,
a sat-nav, Ordinance Survey map so
faint orange lines replace giddy bluffs.
Send your voice tight-roping the telephone wires
while I wait and remember it the very first time we met.
“Dr Livingstone, I presume?”

My Dearest, please write it
on a parked, articulated lorry
in the biggest letters you can find.