Sarah Watkinson – three poems

The Means of Production

The mill throbs, at its heart the spinning stone
that shakes the beams and dusts the air with meal.
Gears creak, chains rattle and the flour sacks fill,
in stonework braced to take the stress and strain.

Outside, the quiet river gives no sign
of holding power. Its rippled surface still,
it’s only spared a fraction to the wheel.
Wind breathes in leaves, sheep’s feet tap in the lane.

Before we go we’ll photograph the scene
although, unpeopled, it can’t be the whole.
No horses now drag harvests to this mill,
no little farms send little sacks of grain

and though the ancient heart may falter on
the miller’s local sovereignty is gone.

I Like Insects in the Outdoors

Emerald shield bugs on the oak leaves,
ladybirds, their sudden take-off,
plume moths like the ghosts of cranefly over bindweed in the evening,
bees in all their colourways of black and gold and brown and yellow,
burnet moths in red and charcoal, lacy commas, damselflies.
Why would I use pesticides?
……..Clad in drab and bent on plunder,
cleggs and fleas, ticks and mosquitoes –
these are quite a different matter.
During news on Channel Four,
the dog at hand, I stroke his fur,
detect the tick-shape like a squash-pip
flip it off on to the fire.
Watch it burst without remorse.

Ordnance Survey One-Inch Map of Great Britain. Sheet 90. Wensleydale.

High Greenfield Pasture, Beckermonds, Far Barn
are summer fields, attractors of old trails
from hibernation fug through poached in-bye
to a curlew plateau arched between two dales
where deep-set tarns survey the flying sky.
Such joy to open wide the shippon door
then – one to drive, another hold the gate –
to loose the barging herd on to the moor
and linger on the tops with them till late.

The moor’s deserted, but you’re not alone.
From Ribblesdale to Yockenthwaite and Cray
fell-striding lanes host such a company
of travellers, herdsmen; future and long gone,
footlit by peat moss pools that mirror sun.

Sarah Watkinson is a plant scientist with a 2012 diploma in creative writing from Oxford University. She lives in Oxfordshire, has a site at and tweets from @philonotis.


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