Lache Eyes

Lache Eyes


world no longer turning 

like it did when fire 

rained down from the sky 

and cars stacked up along 

dynamic hard shoulders

bound for cities that are

smarter than smart

like everything else

under the spiralling sun

I reach out but you are not there

or here or wherever it is we are

behind doors that remain closed

we breathe the lilac perfume of our thoughts 

as if the contagion were only physical

to purge is to be human

is what I tell myself 

when the desire to reboot

outpaces the need to remain

in the flesh of your suffering

during snatches of outside

when running the gauntlet of applause

that is not mine 

things fall out of range

and are no longer syncing

I tumble like Doug and Tony 

the faint line of my ghosting 

passes unnoticed through lache eyes 

and I slip outside of this time 


where Boundary Lane curves

into the sandy shallows of a homeland

we've pledged to find

when the water table rises

the border ploughs on 

across fields and drains

into a pool of softly spoken rushes

tall tales

smugglers and pilgrims

ferrying night's cargo

between stations of the locked-down day

from isolation to solitude stolen

weighing the murmur of the slumberous dead

the leech coil of spring

pulls limbs from the causeway

we share an embrace that straddles the ages

like groundwater passing through rock

or the alveoli of chanced-upon clearings 

where voices come and go in the suspect wind

I can breath

I can breath 

expressway traffic has thinned to nothing

birdsong spans the air like a cathedral arch

and prayers take flight in the spaces left empty

all the world is contained herein

we chart a passage through to Balderton

then buffer in the slipstream

of our rebooted lives

August 2020

LACHE, Sc. Nhb. Dur. Cum. Wm. Yks. Lan. Chs. Der. Also written laych Chs.; leech Lan. Chs. (also latch; lach; lack; laich; leach; leche; letch). 1. A pond; a pool; a muddy hole; a puddle. 2. A swamp, a quagmire; a ‘dub’; a wet mass; a long narrow swamp in which water moves slowly among rushes and grass. 3. An occasional watercourse; a narrow ditch; a deep cart-rut.

LACHE EYES, drained marshland on the Flintshire-Cheshire border, Saltney, Dee Estuary. [see The Sands of Dee] 

This poem provided the inspiration for an essay written in response to an invitation to contribute to the book Territories, Environments, Governance: Explorations in Territoriology, edited by Andrea Mubi Brighenti and Mattias Karrholm (Routledge, 2022). The title and abstract of my contribution are below:

Territory Glimpsed Through Lache Eyes: A Tale of Non-Euclidean and Symbolically Authentic Excursions in Liminal Space

Les Roberts, University of Liverpool

The title of this chapter has been adapted from René Daumal’s unfinished pataphysical novel, published posthumously in 1952, Mount Analogue: A Tale of Non-Euclidean and Symbolically Authentic Mountaineering Adventures. Conceived in and reflecting on the period of lockdown imposed by the UK Government from March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the chapter is in part an exercise in deep mapping and spatial anthropology (Roberts 2015-16, 2018), but it is also an attempt to both delineate and dissolve the parameters of a hyper-localised and, ultimately, existential space of territory conditioned by an experience of lockdown. In terms of the former, attention is focused on a small patch of land that is located in a patchwork of fields adjacent to the street where the author lives. Going by the name ‘Lache Eyes’, the area is reclaimed marshland located on the English side of the England-Wales border in the town of Saltney in Flintshire, North Wales. The name ‘Lache’ is derived from an Old English word meaning pond, pool, or swamp, and hence alludes to its former topographic status. Restricted to taking outdoor exercise within the immediate environs of the author’s home, during lockdown this liminal territory became an immersive space into which a meshwork of historical, familial, psychogeographical, and critical-creative entanglements have inchoately fed. Where spatial anthropology tips over into more existential ruminations into Ballardian ‘inner space' (and where it dovetails with pataphysics) is in the enforced (legally, morally, experientially) adjustment to the recalibrated nature of ‘home’ under lockdown. In this regard, J.G. Ballard’s short story ‘The Enormous Space’ (adapted for television by the BBC in 2003 and renamed ‘Home’) serves as a catalyst for the re-imaginings of territory, where attention to the liminalities, intimacies and interiority of spatial proximity enables the charting of frontiers that stretch beyond the affective geometries of everyday living.