Backpacking Across Pangea

In its last throes, when the earth huddled back together
for warmth, a single crust floating in a soup bowl,
you could walk ten thousand miles and never reach the sea.

We packed The Rough Guide to Pangea, a work in seven parts,
a stack of t-shirts, and a compass that did nothing but spin.
We crossed the great land bridge that rose out of the Channel.

We stepped from Eurasia to Gondwana while they scanned
our retinas and rummaged through our DNA.
In the mountains of Oman, we met musicians

who plied us with Yak blood and sweet potatoes
while we listened to their songs of a separated world: the spindle
of central America; the anachronism of island nations.

In the old Aegean, the sole of my boot peeled off
like a transfer; within six steps the other did the same.
Our navigation implants made our heads ache.

This was many years ago, before the mantle
began to melt, when you could tread the earth in bare feet,
all of the world a golden outback.

In the hills of Matabeleland, the devil appeared to us
in the form of a toad, while an angel drove by
disguised as a tractor driver with a swollen hand.

It was possible we had skipped an injection or two.
When we awoke we found ourselves on a white headland
with a single red hut selling herring and Coca-Cola.

We returned on the Trans-Pangea Express – forty three days
without a stop. On the train a beautiful old woman smiled at us
with our golden hair and brown skin

while we drifted into sleep; we dreamt of the slow dance
of the continents joining hands in a ceilidh of lithospheric plates
parting and drifting back together.

We arrived on The Last Night of The Proms
and sang ‘Rule Pangea, Pangea Rules the Waves’.
As the waters rose, we waved our single flag of woe.

by Christopher James