New poetry by Sharon Phillips

 

In a Yorkshire Churchyard

 

 

sacred to the memory

slab of gritstone

dark with summer drizzle

 

green crags of moss

where springtails ping

from sporophytes

 

grey grains of quartz

specks of creamy feldspar

nematodes in puddled letters

 

each flood and ebb

thy will be done

formed in river deltas

 

white lichen moons

red spider mites

his wife and infant son

 

***

 

Maps of the West Weares

Isle of Portland, Dorset

 

 

Blacknor, Tar Rocks, Green Hump.

Amazing climbing. A falcon drops

five hundred feet to the shore.

 

It’s a laugh, said the boy, carefree

on a tightrope over grey cascades

of quarry waste. Want to watch?

 

Meltdown, Sacred Angel, Medusa

Falls. Climbers tag their steeps

and grooves. Hiram Otter, strongman,

 

salvationist, hand-jacked boulders

to lay a path, carved bible texts

in rocks and named the bay Allelujah

 

to glorify his god. Rain seeps through

limestone. Cliff failures scatter rubble.

Path closed. Diversion. Danger.

 

***

 

At Rievaulx Abbey

 

 

Green is on the cusp

of yellow

after weeks of heat

 

sky white-hazed

on the horizon,

air dense with song:

 

a flight of swallows

skims in arabesques

 

through window arches,

down the nave, up

where a roof once vaulted

 

and we stand to watch

the arcs that seem

 

to leave no air

between bird and wall

or bird and bird

 

to make stone soar

like voices raised

in plainsong.

 

***

 

Sharon Phillips began writing poetry having retired from a career in education. She has been published widely and she has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2017), the Indigo Firsts pamphlet competition (2018) and the WoLF Poetry Competition (2019). Sharon won the Borderlines Poetry Competition in 2017 and was among the winners of the Poetry Society Members’ Competition in November 2018. She is in the midst of moving from the Isle of Portland, on England’s south coast, to Yorkshire.

 

The painting at the head of these poems is a detail from Time on Portland by Jan Walker. Jan is from the Fenland of East Anglia where she learnt her craft, but moved to Dorset over twenty years ago.

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