Acrylic painting by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Who were these invaders?
Haunting the holloways, harrowed by hooves;
feeling our footfall fragment the flint.
Scanning the canopy’s inosculation,
we glybe through glossamer and squint in the glisk.
Dustsceawung is unavoidable:
dreams flit into smeause, like mice through a crack;
dilemmas dissolve through smoot holes.
Preoccupation is piffling to us.
We head for a hill-fort; spy on a settlement,
among the shadowtracks and shivelights
at the selvedge fray of a sown field.
After a shower, a pungent petrichor
permeates nostrils and a landskein
looms over the horizon, like smoke from their huts.
Soon it will be wolf-light; eawl-leet softens
and Heimweh’s heft hirples our hearts,
so we summon the sun wane
on the suthering tide, where we tied our ships.
May a spanging breeze freeze the salt in our beards!
Helmsmen, we long for the Hran-rad and home.
A quennet for a woman who made a fortune with her pen:
fourth daughter Gloucestershire born Mendip Hills
religious tracts pastoral plays Sunday education
‘strange affair’ Bleeding Rock jilted female
strange plays female education pastoral landscape
Christ died on an aspen cross, woodmen thought.
Maybe that’s why, on slight provocation,
I quake and all my cordate leaves shiver,
so that I am known as ‘The Trembling Giant,’
aka Populus tremuloides.
Before men walked out of Africa and
when glaciers were scouring the planet,
I, Pando, was like a subterranean god –
not Pluto, but Pando, meaning ‘I spread.’
After flames have incinerated me,
my dormant rhizome will regenerate,
like resurgence of an old religion.
In times of trial, I just go underground;
in ideal circumstances, I can host
bryophytes; nurture lepidoptera.
I have the root of the matter in me,
but I share my vulnerability
with my multiple ramets – all my clones.
I haven’t flowered for ten thousand years,
in spite of a rigorous self-pruning.
See where black scars mutilate my white bark.
Invasive lodge pole pine may steal my light
and pocket gophers gnaw my root system,
but I sprout from this volcanic soil.
What I lack in diversity,
I’ll exchange for durability, for
we suckers just plan to stay together,
even when a highway runs right through us.
Master of the art of adaptation,
I will survive when all else is ashen.