Old mother moor by Sarah Westcott

    Burrator Reservoir, Yelverton. Image credit: Chris Gilbert

    Old mother moor

    is bitter –
    peat is the thinnest of comforts
    the bedrock is recalcitrant as teeth

    moor like to throw up
    what she thinks are startling images
    hanks of hair, scout’s woggle
    is that the boys’ voices in the tor-wind?

    she is deemed map-stuff,
    trespassed, plucked off oak, surly –

    one moor will out-do the others
    with beauty
    also: child murders, eagles,
    stubbed villages, ambivalence

    moor is stubborn as the ovaries –
    a palette – reader is the make-up artiste
    affixing her self
    her endeavours slip like martens

    moor takes many carcasses
    but doesn’t care for them
    as the sea does –

    moor’s roots are showing
    can the coast fold
    moor and all her juices – little ghosts, the holy lost,
    into the wet
    a saint cannot be dirty-minded

    moor is filthy-rich
    her streams are loaded
    the farms are mean and desperate as moles

    I only know her face by its outline

    The features are scattered choicely
    bridge, view point,
    eyes too close together

    and the heather is a decoy
    the buzzards know this –
    turn golden shoulders

    towards the heraldry of bin lorries –
    moor’s name running down the side,

    stake-holders talk, talk of re-creation,
    how to make her pay for it
    how to make us pay.

    Poetry Prize Competition 2017 Winner

    Sarah Westcott’s collection Slant Light was published by Pavilion Poetry, an imprint of Liverpool University Press, in 2016. A poem from the book was Highly Commended in the 2017 Forward Prizes. Her debut pamphlet Inklings was a Poetry Book Society choice in 2013.Sarah’s poems have appeared in magazines including Poetry Review, POEM and Magma, on beermats, billboards and the side of buses, and in anthologies including Best British Poetry and The Forward Book of Poetry. She was a poet-in-residence at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve in 2015 and Manchester Cathedral poet of the year in 2016.