Robyn Thomas

Wild City, 2020

A river of flowers has been planted
alongside a motorway in Rotherham.
In the last 100 years we have lost
97% of the country’s
wildflower meadows.

 

But between the city’s cemeteries,
& the private sector skylines,
where green space is a privilege
& hard to come by,
raised beds are planted for vegetable gardening,
in allotments overrun with fruit trees,
where apple blossom blooms are almost over
as we wait for early summer cauliflowers.

 

Where residents find time between
raising kids & paying the electricity bill
to plant bulbs in time for spring,
push community drives to save the bees,
& climb fences to prune rose bushes
that form spirals against chain-link fences,
& around drainpipes.

 

“Do you ever get anxious?”
My 12 year old brother asks me,
stirring chocolate powder
into hot milk at the kitchen counter
He is anxious about the planet dying,
he tells me, about global warming
& all the plastic in the oceans.

 

One Sunday lunch, my uncle laughed
when I told him my new room in the South
was surrounded by trees and hills,
designated green spaces &
a nature reserve protecting the remains
of The Great North Wood,
that once stretched from Croydon
to Camberwell.

 

I said,
“pay attention to the trees that line the city paths,
uncle, the wildflowers that push up
through the pavement.

 

The small patches of dirt
along the high street
where handmade signs
are attached to crosses in the soil,
a child’s scrawl reads,
‘please don’t litter on our flowers.’

 

It is more than a
‘Healthy Street Initiative’—
the government’s plan to turn
freedom of movement into
Pay and Display.

 

You are never too far from a body of water,
uncle, or the early rise of
daffodils, tulips, and snowdrops
in the garden of a former council estate.

It’s all here,
you need only look.”

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Simon Boulter

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December Walks upon Exmoor, 2019

The moor.

 

Along short days upon the moor

between melting and freezing,

and fires and frosts,

and budding and withering,

and tedium and brevity,

and drops of rain which cling

upon the bracken, and the trees in the valley,

like memory to a soul,

you remember your first walks

outward, hand in hand,

one loved, the other loving,

speechless on, only humming.

Notice how winter wind stirs memory

and all its hazy foundations,

its manifestations and sensations,

as readily as the leafless branches

overhanging the pathway.

 

Other stirrings.

 

Inhabit the pathway. Shall we follow?

Toward the rivers tow,

toward the rivers flow,

toward the river gushing: “Recall the summer

when, with skies laughing with lightning,

I was a dark-wine sea

blossomed with wrecks and bodies,

and the echos of old sea captains,

and you,

a child sinking amongst drops of dew,

held a paper boat as fragile as a sparrow’s egg.”

 

Thus.

 

Time present is only present

beyond the ebb and flow

of time gone and time to go,

a herd of twisted, knotted things,

that we, for our part, dwell in.

What happened, scarcely sensed,

becomes apparent for the first time.

You notice how

the seeds you scattered so confidently

in your youth

have long outgrown you.

 

Speechlessly on.

 

The world, the pathway.

Skylarks sing in the rain to say:

“Does flowering, then, elude you so?

No!

Patiently

unburden yourself

from the weight of life,

even birds must do this

before taking flight.”

Perhaps guileful animals better understand

the worldlessness of the interpreted world.

That was a way of saying it,

 

rather inadequately.

Birds,

aren’t what they used to be.

But,

neither is poetry.

 

Dark.

Back at night.

On with light.

There is nothing greater

than birds at twilight.

And the new moon hums to you

above cotton-wool wisps

of receding mists,

alone:

“Remember, when you wrote;

‘Might our fates finally

become one here

to reach for the late bloom

of early seeds

we never attained…’”

Perhaps the boldest memories are made

but would you want to go back

 

what with what is in you now?

 

Lovely morning thought.

 

The most precious moments

are not to be sought

but awaited,

like being itself,

which strives for no fixedness,

staying always open.

Truly,

beginning forever in every way,

as the sun, with the break of each day

or the river whose water

flows perpetually away.

 

Now it is day!

 

And what does it mean to you?

Winter sun on wet cobbles,

that which can be divided,

only wind,

and taken apart,

weathered eaves,

belongs at the same time together,

blackened cobweb,

you cannot find being’s boundaries,

wandering anywhere,

so deep is the measure of it.

 

Nature.

 

Is itself then always present,

even as it rests,

in winter trees, plants, and seas,

like your love,

in memories, hopes, and realities.

The innerness of these things,

can often appear as veiled,

and hopeless, and doubtful,

as blue sky beyond winter cloud.

Yet clouds float away in a breath of air,

while the infinite space…

 

You can endure

 

the fullness of these things,

only at times,

but, such as my words,

more

isn’t necessary.

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