Fall/Winter 2015-2016

Graham Mort


Lost above the town – though near
         enough to hear church bells – cursing
the whimsy of French cartographers

retracing my steps past red campion,
         a ring of ceps, a peregrine kill, its feathers
spread as votive ash on stone. Walking

the gorge, harried by doubts, the
         path an aggregate of cracked red clay
the cliff sheer through scrub birch

juniper and thorns. Sweat, indecision,
         a spray of rain tapping at my hat; now
taking on this loose descent the way

I came, past a ruined house high
         under the outcrop on a track only a
bloody-minded mule could climb: its

roof beams charred, ferns making
         a home, gables tilting to the valley floor.
I wonder what it was they did to live

back there in history, watching water-
         boatmen circle the cistern, a buzzard blaze
over hay fields. A posse of young hikers

bounces past, jostling though trees,
         bright hair and verbs tossed to the sun;
the afternoon falling as a slab of light

pressing me to the path’s periphery –
         its gloom of cherry, ash and oak – as if
a bird’s blunt wings shadowed me.

Graham Mort is Professor of Creative Writing and Transcultural Literature at Lancaster University. His latest book of short fiction, Terroir, was published by Seren in May 2015. He is working on a new collection of poems scheduled for 2017.



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