The South Country
On Chalk Barrow Hill
the land rolls on remembering itself
in down lands, copses
and corridors of trees.
The path lifts straight up to the distant sky.
Below, a church spire marking
habitation; an ornate and cobbled town.
The land creaks, with archaeological
depth of mound and barrow,
chalk whiteness, taking all the eye.
Willows frame a horizon of green mornings.
I was a girl here, ran out of doors
from a low brick house open to
outbuildings and the air.
Roads and lanes held no shadow.
as if there was never any weather.
Returning, the long grass is waist high
and ditches full of rain.
This leaded window opens
on a view across the meadow.
Broad paths are mown along
barley fields. Voices rise from
lived in, light filled houses,
boats float reflected on the water,
of all the long slow rivers.
In the south country,
there is an ease.
One thing becomes another as
the landscape blurs and falls towards the sea.
In the thin sun of a mild morning,
The windows streaked with winter light
I picked up the strong twine.
Dropped from your pocket,
too short for garden use.
There’s something about string.
How it leans with the wind,
supporting foxgloves and runner beans
from endless changes in weather.
How it tightens its purpose to keep
collected things neat, but yields to let
what is enclosed slip.
These rooms where we live together
tied by a loose knot, that shifts and stays
hours full of skeins that stop us falling down.
About the Author:
Clare Crossman’s pamphlet won the Redbeck competition in 1996. Since then she has published four collections of poetry, she is working on her fifth from Shoestring Press due to be published in summer 2020. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies most recently Letters to the Earth, Harper Collins. She also wrote for Lucy Cavendish College Cambridge on the Connections project. She has recently written poems about a local chalk stream for the film Waterlight wwwwaterlightproject.org. She lives in Cambridgeshire and sometimes in Cumbria.