Lux Brumalis

Published in Winter – An Anthology for the Changing Seasons (Elliott & Thompson 2016)


I am the trumpet muted
the bow unrosined
and the fiddle unstrung.

I am oblique sunlight
pale illumination of
a world undernourished.

I am the broadcast interrupted
dead air, station leeching
anaemic, into station.


I am the garnet shock
of rosehip on frost
the robin’s titian flare.

I am the icebound babble
observed, not heard
under brittle silver.

I am the creeping metabolism
of the trout, wintering
deep below the current.

I am the heart-chilling scream
of the courted vixen
the crowing pheasant’s boast

the snipe’s ‘peep-peep’
defying, folding distance
across the whispering marsh.

I am the withered husk
on the naked briar
the sap retreating.

I am the fiery Saturnalia
the blacksmith spark, rising
then extinguished, spent.

I am the otherworld
beyond the black perimeter
of the sheltering blaze.

I am the chiselled gravestone
of the old year in repose
and the muttered obsequies.

I am Janus, churlish sentry
clinging to yesterday
wary of tomorrow.


I am the child unfathered
the page from a book
you read once, forgot

but must surely read again.



I’m back at Ladysmith

and at its wilting zenith, the longest day
exiting Cancer, the doorway to Capricorn


diffusing latitude, warping longitude
folds time, space and place
to a pillowed mass.

Pulsing air, nearer drug than bludgeon
sedates us with weighted persuasion
as we lie on a carpet of trampled grasses
while a palisade of stalks draws the eye
to a vaulted view, linear
but in no sense limited.

A lark transmits. We receive, constrained
by language, but alert to the possibilities.

For the longest instant
we inhabit the province
between the once was
and the soon to be.

The pond, hugged by bullrush and marigold
so close but a galaxy away, for now
is a cooling temptation to be resisted.

Summer – An Anthology for the Changing Seasons edited by Melissa Harrison

A rare reblog (in fact my first ever).

Run, don’t walk, to your local bookshop, not because I’m in it but because it is truly an anthology to treasure.

Linda's Book Bag


I am indebted to Alison Menzies Publicity for a copy of Summer – An Anthology for the Changing Seasons edited by Melissa Harrison in return for an honest review. Summer – An Anthology for the Changing Seasons was published by Elliott and Thompson in conjunction with the Wildlife Trusts on 19th May 2016.

Summer is the second of four titles known collectively as The Seasons and is available for purchase on Amazon and from Waterstones.

Summer – An Anthology for the Changing Seasons


Summer is a season of richness: gold against blue; sun dazzle on water; sweet fragrance, and the sound of insects, filling the air. We feel the sand between our toes, or the grass beneath our feet. In these long, warm days, languid and sensual, we reconnect with the natural world, revelling in light and scent and colour once more.

Capturing the high point of the year’s…

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Gospel Oak




On a June day
, half a lifetime ago
a toddler, 
uncertain limbed
but chin set hard, 
trunk angled
against gravity, 
wobbled up Dark Lane
toward the crest 
of Roost Hill
in his urchin eyes, 
that day
the loftiest of summits.

At the top, he knew, 
the grown-ups
would point to the Oak, 
old as England
whose ancient roots delved
even to a time before time.

Crooked, crouched, 
the north face
, withered antler branches
gale lashed, 
trunk lightning gashed
blind to brook
, covert and spinney
to meadow
 and wandering byway
in the valley below.

The south, animate still
a wisp of green
 recalling the vigour
now guarded fast
 in the heartwood’s memory
by rings of sap 
which awoke each March.

Gone now
 the exultant springtime surge
of the sapling time
, crawling now
inching upward to the sun.

The Oak; old Needwood-bred
coppiced by pagan, 
sequestered by monk
a holy plot for the living
to rest the dead awhile
and take sustenance
 at the mid-point
between deathbed and grave.

Undressed by yeoman
consecrated in Mundy’s lament
lone refugee 
from the encloser’s axe
and the lust for timber
of an empire beyond the sea.

The lad thought little of this
nor cared greatly.

To him, insight would dawn only
as his own vitality, by degrees, diminished
his errant dash for fortune slowed
and dimly remembered moments
, came back into focus.


Home from the world 
the man returns
his own boy, 
punching clouds
astride his shoulders
to the Gospel Oak
, abiding still
smaller, it seems
half erased
 from men’s knowledge
but steady, enduring.

Tears well unbidden
though he does not grieve 
for lost renown
but weeps at the stark, solitary beauty
and the still march through time
of history’s quiet sentinel
and marvels at his place beside it.

(Image: History and Antiquities of the Town and Neighbourhood of Uttoxeter | Francis Redfern | 1886)

The Lake at Hollybush, Evening

As days shorten, when dusk drops leaden
always unforeseen, unwanted
but punctual, a dedicated gaoler
the mind, thus confined, is drawn
to tracing tracks of memory, old paths
followed with an index finger.

Often, thoughts fix on a place
where it is still summer; on many-hued
evenings exploring the sodden frontier
the debated province between wood and lake
on a favoured spot for the evening rise
where whispered splashes announce
the trout’s harvest of the damsel fly.

In the dimness of the abandoned boathouse
crawling a neglected punt’s rotting bilges
looking down, the gaze alights on a gem
vivid, suspended in tenebrous, aqueous limbo
alchemical flux of malachite and turquoise
a teal drake, constricted by the pitiless clamp
of a skulking pike, then discarded.

The prospector dips an arm shoulder-deep
recovers the dripping remains and
saves an iridescent pin feather, hoards it
in a bedroom cache, waiting for the time
when it will take up its place in the band
of a keen adolescent’s first fishing hat.

A Glut of Blackberries

It had been wet that summer.
Down in Blunt’s Hollow, Pur Brook
commonly a placid tributary
lazy with weed, barely remarked
on its brief passage to the Blithe
had ruptured its margins
drowned the wild garlic
an annual bounty denied us
and engulfed the meadow.

Later, the last of the swallows
thronged the telegraph wires
one day garrulous, gossiping
the next, called south
a memory, enveloping silence
their baked clay homes
under eaves of barn and woodshed
abandoned to autumn rains
gales, and keen, cracking frosts
of oncoming winter.

There followed a late September
of pale mornings, bronze afternoons
ushering thickened air, bruised skies
and reverberant thunders.

Tumult in the heavens.
Convulsions in the soul.

Then, as every autumn
we fell to the business
of pillaging the brambles
plump that year with berries
a glut, nourished by rain
glossed onyx by the lowering sun.

For three days we came
filled pails, baskets, to the lip
gorged bellies till they cramped
and claret-stained our tongues
racing to finish our plunder
by Michaelmas, lest
after, the Devil come by night
and spit on them, trample them
into the loam that bore them.

It was a cheerful time
brimming with laughter
mischief and delight, but always
half-noticed but persistent
the lingering turbulence
of that brief spell of storms.

For this was the first harvest’s end
that I properly discerned
the passage of seasons.

Home Farm, Sunday

What I remember is walking into
the warm, amber glow, the reassuring
drop and clink of the latch behind me
locking in secrets, kitchen smells
bacon, boot polish, cabbage, a whiff
of drying dogs, trembling black flanks
glossy with rain, steaming by the range
a muddy spoor across the flagstones.

Hung on a hook, my father’s coat
collar five years’ pomade-slick
stiff with his form, wore his bitter spice
the threadbare armchair his impression
and in the larder, the grey March wind
sighed through the flyscreen while
a mail coach galloped round the biscuit tin
low enough to see, too high to reach.

The Bakelite radio played Family Favourites
and Jean Metcalfe read transoceanic hellos
from those remote, crumbling redoubts
Cyprus, Woomera, Hong Kong, Sarawak, the Rhine.
And always, my mother, constant as soil
absorbed with the Bramleys, working
the cinnamon, demerara, butter, flour and oats
crooning along to True Love Ways.

Perched, legs dangling, on a chair by the table
if I craned my neck, I could see the front door
down the hall, a tiny fissure in the mullion
an eye, winking bright, impish, weasel-sly
and again, the bending note of the piccolo wind
shivering me like the crimped puddles in the yard.

If I return one day, perhaps the eye, glinting now
will wear the crinkled edge of my grandmother’s smile.