Fall/Winter 2015-2016



John Greening

HEATH XL

to burn
on any waste
anygrig, ling, heath, furze, goss or fern
is punishable with whipping and confinement in the house of correction

Yet the fires are lit
and ‘get to a masterless head’

while out in Russia, the steppes are strummed by the wind
to make a low music,
songs twinned with us, whose drumming refrain we are
beginning to know by heart

podzol podzol podzol

The old coat
consumed in the blaze
had left in its pockets something for the Heathen
potash, glass, soap, bricks

but the bracken is crackling

Krasnodar Krai, it whoops, and the limping Ilyushins and drunken
Tupolevs reply

podzol

The mineral soil is grey, the humus pan is red, the iron pan
like our underash
black and the Heath is blackened as if it were a lava flow

while out in Leningradsky District, they can only imagine our stripes
and polygons
our mosaic of limewoods and hazelwoods and oakwoods

bracken, bell
heather, gorse,

already beginning to

sprout as Gilbert White predicted

 


John Greening A Cholmondeley winner, his recent books are To the War Poets (Carcanet), an anthology about composers, Accompanied Voices (Boydell) and an edition of Edmund Blundenís Undertones of War (OUP). A collaboration with Penelope Shuttle, Heath, appears in 2016 from Nine Arches. "The sequence is set on Hounslow Heath, on the edge of London, where Heathrow Airport is now situated; it was famously the resort of highwaymen and considered in earlier times the most dangerous ten square miles in England. Penny and I were brought up on opposite sides of this now largely imaginary heath."

 


 

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