Only Exmoor stretches out to embrace the whole sky in its immensity Reflects its moods and colours, its nurture and destruction Only the moor is as fickle as the sky
Today the moor is swallowed as clouds subsume the uplands Yesterday it shed water like the clouds themselves Tomorrow it will shimmer with heat, dry and unforgiving
Trees hide in hollows, afraid to stand in the open Sheep bones litter the spring hillsides Peaty silty bogs nestle with gorse , bracken and heather
Only Exmoor reaches out to bleed the very rain from the sky To lie seeming gentle with its folds and billows, green fields abutting the heather Then to gladly accept the gifts of deadly snow, killing floods, baking heat
Moonlight feathers treetops
reveals hill slopes, shadows gullies
sketches out my beautiful Exmoor.
Lone headlights angle skywards on the west horizon
twisting along the high road.
I watch at the window on this cold night
as the car winds along towards us
(to however may
or may not be listening)
that traitor Moon
will not glint on my rifle barrel.
Gripping the gun with amateurs nerves,
I reach for Eva’s hand
and we hold our breath while
a child cries fitfully in the house.
We all have broken sleep in these remaining days.
We eke out, stand watch, wait.
For what? For a quiet death perhaps.
But in the day we want very much to live
so we tend straggling sheep, shoot rabbit,
Fear clutches my gut as the car turns past empty houses
and down along our valley road,
and a form of relief washes us as it continues on
following the river to richer pickings in the southern towns.
I move my baby to feed at my other breast
and mourn the futures stolen from her,
the violence awaiting.
Deep plunge pool in the heart of the moor
Centred in spring time unfurling of bracken
Shadowed by a twisted thorn tree
Water pours in over a mossy lip
Large pebbles line the sloping
Glowing colours in crystal water
Breaks the surface
Circles upon circles radiate
Contours ripple to a point of disappearance
Sparkle in the dawn light
Stone in the water
Drowsing on the wayside
Halfway through our walk
We are stopped
Something rustles and I open my eyes
Raise my head
There in the red tipped grasses of the moor
Stands a doe, ears twitching
Black liquid eyes gazing into mine
Two creatures on the uplands
We exchange something in that moment
Before the nearby bleat of a sheep
Startles us each
And the moment and doe are both gone
We live on the high ground
Below us the water tumbles and falls, jumping over buried rocks
Water criss-crosses the land eventually falling to the sea
Life is good here on the high, fresh soil and clear water
Healthy children, full bellies, long lives
Yesterday we sowed seed, laughing and singing
Today the sun is warm and the birds are singing for me
I try to put the birdsong into speech
As we knap flints from the coast
Mother is drawing a circle on the turf near the Family stones
A circle stones of to encompass Grandmother who closes in to death
We will cover her in the soil of home to keep her with us
Here on the high ground