Scar on the skin of the land, hypertrophic, memory
of conflict, buckled and thickened by a difference
in process, grown out of accident, formed
out of pain. It says: this is where it hurt,
once, a long time ago. Earth
could have forgotten. Stone remembers.
Two worlds met here, connected, pressed
into one another, became something other.
Surrendered futures. They say:
this is where it hurt, when it happened,
and for a long time after. Sometimes
it still does. This is why we call them Fell.
Fateful, suspicious. Like all resurfacing
of selves we thought we had buried.
This is what you wanted, isn’t it? everything bluebells and you
giddy with it – dunking your face in the swell of them
in the late light
the cuckoo concealed on the common,
the wrens in the bracken, the ravens on the crag
the trees talking to you, telling you how much it means to them
to be waving their limbs in the high sun, ecstatic,
the deer in the small copse staring up at you drunk with it
as you trot back down to your human life.
You’re thinking about yourself divested of the self again you do it
often, putting yourself in second person.
What you mean is I
I wanted it, this bluebell high, the deer transfixed by my human body
unable to move forward, or backward, until I remove it
and its history.
You wanted out of it, this alarming body, its scent of harm.
You carry it home all the same.
Polly Atkin lives in Cumbria. Her first poetry collection Basic Nest Architecture (Seren, 2017) is followed by a second, Much With Body (Seren, 2021), and a biography, Recovering Dorothy: The Hidden Life of Dorothy Wordsworth (Saraband, 2021). She is working on a memoir exploring place, belonging, and disability. She has taught English and Creative Writing at QMUL, Lancaster University, and the Universities of Strathclyde and Cumbria. With Kate Davis and Anita Sethi she co-founded the Open Mountain initiative at Kendal Mountain Festival, which seeks to centre voices that are currently at the margins of outdoor, mountain, and nature writing.