Poetry | The Panners by Isabel Bermúdez Ospina

    PEDRO RUIZ Música Sagrada (Oro Derivados 100 x 70cm Acrylic on canvas 2012)

    Isabel Bermúdez Ospina

    The Panners

    Under blue skies
    yellow dust in the sandy stream.
    What it is for the men
    to crouch all day long,

    and pan, pan, pan
    searching for

    the one thing that will
    exorcise the past,

    that lucky strike
    among false friends
    who wink and glitter
    in the beery sun,

    full of the shine
    that dulls

    once out of the water’s lick,
    shrinks to nothing

    like a day’s pay.
    They were
    the panners,

    who pitched up
    in my childhood.

    Squatters, shadows,
    seekers, they showed
    the child I was –

    visitor to those pastures
    lit with weeds

    and blue, blue butterflies –
    their darkness,

    their skills.


    The Walnut Tree

    Last night
    I buried the little walnut tree

    Covered it with asphalt
    by the side of a country track,
    one hundred yards

    from the bulging, bilious trunk
    of an eight-hundred-year-old oak.
    I put things in with it:

    a gold ring, keys…
    A grave, a little spot

    in the yellow grass of memory,
    to which I would

    never, yet always
    come back.


    The Colombian Edition of The London Magazine is out now and available from our online shop. Published in anticipation of next month’s Hay Festival in Cartagena de Indias, this issue will be followed by a Spanish language version, out in January 2022, in Colombia and the UK.
    Cover image: Ritual (Pescadores), oil on canvas, 100x150cm (Pedro Ruiz, 2010)


    Isabel Bermúdez Ospina was born in Colombia and grew up in England. She lives in Orpington, Kent. Her latest collection is Serenade, poems of Spain and the New World (Paekakariki Press, Walthamstow, 2020), with illustrations by her husband, Simon Turvey. She is widely published in magazines, performs her poetry at live events and won the Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition with Madonna Moon in 2018. Other collections are Sanctuary (Rockingham Press, Ware, 2016) Small Disturbances (Rockingham 2018) and Extranjeros (Flarestack Poets, 2015). Most recently she was hosted by the Instituto Cervantes, Manchester and the Colombian Embassy in conversation with Welsh poet and translator Richard Gwyn.

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