We made our way down Horse Dale
warmed by early spring sunshine
saw nothing of hares, rabbits, deer,
seldom heard birdsong
never troubled by insects. 

This took a while to sink in. 

A day like this should herald
reawakening life
but here nothing lived except
the farmer spraying winter wheat:
pesticide, herbicide, fungicide. 

This took a while to sink in. 

A good harvest is ensured as
the yield of nature diminishes 
and insects head to extinction.
If the food web collapses
this dry valley will remain
as we starve. 

This took a while to sink in. 


Hunting Horn 

This oliphant was carved from ivory
and blown by a man who enjoyed hunting. 

If we can forgive inherent cruelty
and take a moment to admire
beasts lined up for slaughter.
We know the hunter’s name
who killed the beast,
not the artisan who carved. 

The man who blew the horn is
labelled in the cathedral treasury.
A Catholic relic hiding Islamic art:
a Fatimid warrior, gazelles, giraffe,
hares, hounds.
How did the man who blew this horn,
a thousand years ago, gain such treasure?
How many lives were taken altogether? 

If the horn is blown 
it will shatter
All who held this oliphant 
and trusted it was beautiful,
will have become dust. 



Wide skies watch over Eske,
undulations in pasture remain
where a main street clattered
to carts, beasts of burden,
children playing, chattering people. 

Silenced, the village was silenced.
What was here is conjecture,
a market, a fair teeming with life?
All that sheltered by the River Hull
is nothing now. 

We walk the banks talking,
taking isolation in our stride,
fears for family and friends are
put aside as we take exercise
in our time of plague. 

Lives damaged, torn
apart by absent lovers.
Bones are bones, they fertilise
this green and pleasant pasture.
Past or present, what becomes of us,
what indeed becomes of us? 


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Clint Wastling’s poetry collection Layers is published by Maytree Press and available here.

Find out more about Clint on our Contributors’ Page.




(Photo: Alain Rouiller/flickr.com/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

Clint Wastling
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