Somewhere I can hear a lark
a desultory bee out late in heather
mistaking the warmth of the sun for summer,
unaware the hour’s about to slip
febrile mornings flare then gutter
darkness close over our heads.
Like bumble bees that cannot fly
oaks can’t grow on this high ground
but no one’s told them.
Piles Copse digs in on its steep slope
looping roots around heaped rocks
its leaves rust flags against a dusk that seeps
from cemeteries of peat.
If I could
pour this honey light
store it in jars on cellar shelves
I’d dip my fingers in its gleam
until my skin grows green with moss
my tongue bleeds sap.
Dartmoor has three areas of high-altitude ancient oak woodland – Black-a-tor Copse, Piles Copse and Wistman’s Wood – where conditions are so harsh, it’s theoretically impossible for those trees to have grown there.
Deborah Harvey lives in Bristol. Her three poetry collections, Communion (2011), Map Reading for Beginners (2014), and Breadcrumbs (2016), are published by Indigo Dreams, while her historical novel, Dart, appeared under their Tamar Books imprint in 2013. Her fourth collection, The Shadow Factory, will be published in 2019. Deborah runs The Leaping Word poetry consultancy with Colin Brown (formerly of Poetry Can). Her poems have been widely published and broadcast on Radio 4’s Poetry Please.