Will Montgomery

Walking in Air in Anlhiac

During our September 2022 Walking in Air event, I walked around a countryside pond. It was set in low-lying land close to a stream and to a field of cows grazing early on winter hay. When, I came upon the pond, I was struck by the way its surface dramatised the relationship between air and water: the way the reflection of the sky fuzzed whenever a breath of air disturbed the surface of the water. I walked 10 times round the pond, taking a photograph at the same four spots on each circuit. In this way, I recorded the slow changes in the cloud formations above.

Before the walk, seeking orientation, I’d looked at a number of texts. These fed into my thoughts as I walked. Two of the short phrases we had supplied to our fellow walkers-in-air seemed particularly helpful : “In the wind/ Time walks” (Nanao Sakaki, 1980). And, as on a walk earlier this year, Peter Gizzi’s line “A textual nimbus, air born”. These steered my movements through air and by water, enmeshing my passage through the landscape in both time and text. Mei Mei Berssenbrugge’s poem ‘The Fog’ helped me think about the dissolving of water and air into one another under the onlooker’s gaze : “we appreciate fog, as the power to make the space continue beyond a single perception into raw material or youth of the body, like a body of light”. I thought too of the following Emily Dickinson poem. It invokes a wind that is at once immaterial and preternaturally cold. It seems to address the interpenetration of distinct orders – visible and invisible, tangible and intangible :

A Wind that roseThough not a LeafIn any Forest stirredBut with itself did cold engage Beyond the Realm of Bird —A Wind that woke a lone Delight Like Separation’s Swell Restored in Arctic ConfidenceTo the Invisible —

After the walk, I found that ordering the images in rows of four – each row a circuit of the pond – helped me make “the space continue beyond a single perception”.