Where The Fog Has No Name – Poems and Images by Eliot North

Where the Fog has No Name

Conceived in a sea fret, whilst resident artist for ‘Djerassi: Scientific Delirium Madness’, 2018

Elements of Paint

Barbara H. Berrie, grew into her name;
a scrap of a girl, all angles. She felt at odds

with the round sound on her tongue,
her name passed down through generations.

We walk and talk, about many things:
including where the sea ends and sky begins.

The chemist in her is so precise, she thinks carefully before
she opens the lid on the depth and breadth of her knowledge,

the elements of paint in sky:

Prussian Blue,

The landscape speaks.

When asked to name the colour of sun
her answer is considered. By sun, you mean fire,
a sunset spectrum. Well now let me see.

You’ll need red oxide, deep orange, canary yellow
then something paler, diffuse sunlight:


Gophers have unearthed clay across the trail, the land
pock-marked, holes in which snakes can hide.

We come back to earth.

These tones seem easier to name, more familiar to my untutored
British ear, they spill out of her mouth. Grounded, well-trodden words:


The mist shifts, a burst of rays, slow reveal of ocean
we wrangle over the colour of waves.

Green-blue depths, turquoise, churning movement
as Barbara the artist strains against her chemist bonds:

Azurite (like sky),
which when combined make

Clouds scud across the sky, lines of breakers
out past San Gregorio visible only from high ground:

Chalk white, Zinc white, Titanium white, Lead white

The sun throws long shadows, our bodies in relief
as we return, an inky Stink Beetle crosses our path:

Lamp black, Bone black, Ivory black, Black earth

Here we are looping back again, a thread woven
in the earth colours of Barbara’s Scottish upbringing,

the browns and greys of Highland mist, indigo lochs.

Counterpoint to the tin pot yellow sun and cobalt sky
of Washington D.C., the place she now calls home.



lost in the woods,
                                                     a threshold
in the misty shimmer
             between woodland
                                                                               and forest floor.
an ecotone                                     sounds
           in my ear,
like a chord                     struck or plucked
on a baby grand
              or sweet charango.


I see you there.

you seem so real,
              my arms stretch out
                       like           redwoods                           do,
                                        so that sunlight   

cannot filter through.


let’s make a wish
              over this coyote bush,
to loneliness,                    a mere     vanishing                 point,
panic struck from my chest.


my bird’s foot hop,
            a de-composite dance,
                                         the nest I made
                                                                                only raided again


lost in the woods,
                                            your buckeyes
            all glazed and brown.

here, I choose to make my home.

[one] factorial

there are fish that swell up
to frighten their enemies, like i puff up my chest
some explode when hauled into thin air

but others, like electrons,
strike a projected wave at just the right moment
as a door opens, or a window of opportunity


electrons rise and then they fall again,
in this falling colour is made. in my falling for you
what colour was made?


here in this particular light [or wavelength]
horizons stretch, bend to the curve of the earth
i can see everything more clearly

there is not one door, but several
open at different times, some are even held ajar
a deer appears in my line of sight


i feel more connected to you now,
than when plugged directly into your skin
up here the air is thin, and we are closer

stage fright

loud crack of ripped canvas //
lights up / blue filter shone down on the stage

perfect model of a barn / seen from a distance
/ through fog blown like dry ice //

man enters stage right / throws
black earth / kicks the wheel of night /

the orchestra cranks up / wades through mud
// a bull frog sounds from the pit

geckos tremble / squirrels drill a crescendo /
while swallows thread the high note //

nature carves a wall of sound / tight knots bitten
// score underwritten /

as silence descends / coils and upends
a kind of poetry that you already knew //

// mesmerized our audience stamp their feet
rise as one / crack lines falter

/ moon flicks her lamp / safety curtains fall /
leaves just a rattle //

Core, marrow and blood

for Pamela Djerassi and her family

Let go of inhibition,
walk barefoot through
Bear Gulch Creek,

stretch out, look up, way up
into the redwood canopy
             stand tall on the old stumps.

Watch the leaves touch
like hands might, if they knew
you were about to fall,

call out all the names
of the people you have loved,
             bathe under a waxen moon.

This place seeps into your bones,
spores spreading out
in core, marrow and blood,

the need to create, to feel,
empathy as much curse as blessing
             observe the fog roll in,

how it presses down on your shoulders, a weight:

paint, words, clay, wood
yarn, ink, metal, stone,
earthy pigments, moss and lichen
grass, sky, sea, mountain
lion, vulture, lizard, slug,
swallow, coyote, heron and hawk
bobcat, owl, rattlesnake, newt

All of it –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– so vast

your hand barely able to keep up
with the mind’s momentum.

Eliot North is a writer, doctor and educator who currently lives in Valencian Country, Spain. She was nominated for the 2020 Pushcart Prize for her poem yolk, by Black Bough Poetry. Her short story This Skin Doesn’t Fit Me Any More, was originally published in Structo Magazine and subsequently selected for the anthology Best British Short Stories 2017 by Salt Publishing. Poetry and prose in Firewords, Structo, Acumen, Black Bough Poetry, Dovecote, Re-side, The Broken Spine and Ink Sweat & Tears literary magazines. The latter publication also nominated her poem My Mother Visits The Dissection Room for The Forward Prize in 2017. Her first digital chapbook, Born in a Pandemic was published by Ice Floe Press (2020). She was selected for the Djerassi Resident Artist Programme: Scientific Delirium Madness, in 2018. She carved two poems into wood whilst she was a resident, which were installed on the Djerassi property, as well as writing essays and poems on the themes of medical science, nature, identity and creativity. Twitter: @eliot_north

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