Poet and musician Marc Woodward writes from rural Devon.
He has been widely published, shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Prize and commended for the 2020 Acumen Prize and the 2021 Aesthetica Creative Writing award.
Recent collections: A Fright of Jays (Maquette 2015), Hide Songs (Green Bottle Press 2018), and The Tin Lodes – a collaboration with Andy Brown (Indigo Dreams 2020).
The New House
Moving through the dark in this unfamiliar house,
I am a lost moth, bumping my way to the kitchen.
Strange forms and shadows – bags of linen and curtains,
huge as a slumbering bear; boxes frozen in black explosion.
Other silent presences – past decades reaching for me
from my parents’ stuff, an archive for oblivion,
and this catalogue of bric-a-brac – a calibration of my life.
I step around this sleeping self in all its outgrown identities.
Out in the emerald garden I squint to see my children dancing
with their young families across the lawn in half light
but no, it is only roe deer treading softly as a moth man
in a new house, headed for the woods and the river.
After this ’hottest Easter Monday’
I sit in my garden at night
hearing the roar of a motorbike
revving through the curves
way over on the coast road.
The noise shouldn’t carry this far
but tonight it stretches through the dry hills
drawn by the density of the air.
Rain is coming soon, I can feel it
in my nose, my ears, weighing on my skin.
The grass will suddenly remember,
the trees sit up and pay attention.
But now I’m sitting with a beer
and a chapbook of poems
sent to me by a woman in France.
Lovely as they are I can’t concentrate.
My shirt smells of old sweat,
the beer tastes like tin and her words
melt and run before my stale eyes.
Over the distant glow of town
a muffled helicopter churns
the gathering clouds like a milk whisk.
Thunder will burst this bubble tomorrow;
temperatures will fall to where they should be.
Then we can all moan once more about April rain
and forget the right-fucking-now of climate change.
At first he didn’t hear the tractor’s growl
for the larks. The sky was a well of blue
and the high canes of elephant grass
rattled over him, tall as playground bullies.
The dog was there somewhere chasing its nose
while he wandered shouting through the wicker.
The sun’s position should’ve been a guide
but the acreage was vast and he was mazed –
till the wind carried down the tractor’s sound
(a combine, harvesting the yellow canes?) –
and he started to run, zigzagging through
the dusty stalks like a hounded rabbit.
Still the machine came, its silver threshers
relentlessly chopping, hunting him down…
Exhausted he burst from the cackling crop
and there was the dog, the lane and the trees;
the faraway sea – and way over the fields
a lonely tractor slanting the green turf.