What The Landscape Saw

The hedgerows each catch a fragment
and between them piece together
blood red stories, ripe as berries.

The ash tree sees and remembers:
a whisper stains brittle foliage
to leaf-meal. Disintegrating witnesses…

About the poem

This poem appeared in the second issue of A Restricted View from Under the Hedge by Hedgehog Press

The poem is one from my MA Dissertation collection on the Roman invasion of Britain. It is a period of history steeped in violence, and in this poem, I consider the impact on the landscape of such bloodshed.

I’ve often wondered whether places can retain a feel of former atrocities or whether we bring our own knowledge to them and superimpose those feelings. I know that places such as Culloden have a very unsettling feeling to them, but perhaps that is because I know what happened there. The same for other battlegrounds, or even haunted houses. 

In this poem, I consider how the landscape might retain some memory of the past, and how that might also link to the renewal of seasons. It is, perhaps, a nature poem that riffs on the idea of “if these walls could talk…” but brings with it a greater measure of hope. We must not forget the past, perhaps, but we must also move towards a new future.