I remember a bright square of grass

fresh won from the heather and bog

made brighter with a hefty dose of lime

and fifteen-ten-ten at five hundred-weight an acre,

three miles from the nearest field.

The statistics counted against it:

a green oasis

in a land of purple and brown,

a neat carpet of foxtail and rye

where everything

should be bracken or ling.


Yet not so neat,

for there within the ordered shape

a ragged row of pimples stood,

acne, bunions, warts,

shrunken parodies of mountains

from some half-remembered children’s book,

each one a tiny volcanic excrescence –

the hills the moles made

to mark their presence.


How did they get here? Who carried them?

Did they hitch a ride on a passing bird –

a curlew, perhaps, or plover

with time on its wings,

a busy partridge,

a kindly pheasant,

an owl who dropped

a tasty meal?

Or were they selected

and planted there by some god,

of their own acquaintance?

New settlers for a new land.


Or did they find their way

the hard way

by the way of men

and women?

Following tracks and paths

the wandering sheep trails,

stumbling through streams,

slogging the wild crags and crests

the rocky outcrops

the deep gullies and vales,

the sea of heather,

bearing the barbs and insults,

the hatred

of those who were here before

or just different;

falling and


and dying


for their endeavour

for the survival

of the lucky

or the fittest.