Jean Atkin – Eglwyseg Day


[11.09 am]

path up through windclipped gorse, wind in the eye

& such yellow splashes through the heather


sheep-cropped mounds & sink-holes of the mines

all smooth as china cups & saucers stacked up


at the table edge

& shelved up there, the purple hills,

here, bilberries & our purple fingers.




share coffee from the Thermos.  Perch

on springy bones of heather root & watch


across the gorge, a nursery

of dark firs gathered quiet

& good by the cliff’s white knee


we listen to the shush

of a sheep through whinberries


oooooooooooo & hum of a bee-line into warm air.




path divides into 2 green trails.  We know

we have chosen the right way when


we can look down on the other as it narrows to a thread,

full-stopped at a brink by a sleeping sheep.


Berries are red-dangled, plumping above pale screes.

We halt by a jut of stones


where a twist of swallows dives & feasts

on insect-clouds blown


oooooooooooooo from Eglwyseg’s lips.


Eglwyseg 2



beyond: raised tide of Llantysilio’s hills

& near, like a minute adder striped & scaled,


a brown caterpillar inches in the dust.  Thistles

are spent, dying in their upright stalks


& at our backs the moor rolls up to Ruabon,

above an oblique shine


oooooooooooo of thistledown, loose cloak of looms & riddles.




fresh gulley water bubbles in a sink

of stone, then falls & empties back


inside the hollow hill.  It leaves no sound.

We walk past a vole passage drilled through dung.


A fence-line stitches the grouse moor.  Eye catches

on a fencepost with tilted crow.


oooooooooooo Bronze Age burial kist, mapped once, gone now.




spreadeagled by the wall, a dead sheep, chalky

porous vertebrae in rainwashed fleece


we pass 3 daisies low along the path, like dropped

white pebbles from children’s pockets


& the mountain rears & grins,

shows all its caried limestone teeth.





Jean Atkin lives in Shropshire. Her first collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books. She has also published five poetry pamphlets and a children’s novel, The Crow House.  Her recent work has been published in The North, Earthlines, Island Review, Under the Radar and Dark Mountain. She has held residencies and worked on projects in both Scotland and England.  She is currently Poet in Residence for Wenlock Poetry Festival.

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