Downs: A Natural Heritage (World Poetry Day)

Thursday 21st March 2019 is ‘World Poetry Day’, so here are a few lines inspired by a love for my home county, its landscape, heritage and nature: the Sussex Downs.

Downs: A Natural Heritage

Bone chalk bruised beneath way-marked graze.
The scent of you – woody and thyme filled, blossom haze.

Flint nuggets, flat mat black but deep,
crested with white like fossilised waves.
Or storm skies broken.

Grey beech trees cling to the hanger with root-tangle grip,
supporting the mist roll, fog flow, cloud slip.

Anthills rise like goosepimples, on grey soils thin,
As familiar as hair bumps on my own mudded skin.

Fleece on wire-snag, briar or thorn-catch still.
Ribcage of sheep tracks across rolled breast of hill,
over and over your sleeping flank.

Harebells nod their silent tolling, fairy curses.
They’ve stolen the voices of tiny lost churches.

Butterflies flit over sheep-bit turf; such lovely things.
Souls of shepherd and poet and downsman kin.

Stone warms to clutched caress.
Comfortingly hard. A heavy whisper.
I know this stone. This scent. This land.
My whole world condensed in the palm of my hand.

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