Beth Hartley – Suggested Development

Picture: Ken Cumberlidge

Beth Hartley shares a poem from her debut collection What if Stars published by Allographic. Former podcast guest Leanne Moden calls it “a gorgeous, lyrical collection, exploring the intersection between our physical and emotional landscapes.”

Look out for Beth on the podcast talking about the collection and sharing more poems.

Suggested Development

Do not come at me and say
“Barren featureless landscape;
no merit in this earth.”
I urge you to look further,
for I have seen it roll in the dark
and swallow people up whole
leaving only cellophane to mark
places where you can slip over the edge
so easily.
Where even slowed to a horse walk
it can claim you:
wet fingers crawling, grasping.

I urge you to look further,
for where the land meets the water
they have become one.
Driving in the dark you are surrounded
by waves of earth.
Navigating the causeway,
listening to the wash and drag
of wind in wheat and potatoes.
Where the blaze of oil seed rape
will blind you;
A rough sown patchwork
laid rippling upon the land.

I urge you to look further
than the flat that you suppose,
to see the gentle undulation,
a tide not even Vermuyden could abate.
The flow of village ridge
and sweeping fall away.
Under this wide sky,
you will see swan and diver
where the rain gets in.
Winter wise and wonder
from the border to the gate.

More than a building plot.
Far better than bare.
Why don’t you watch what grows
when you leave the land alone?
We are your veg box and your farm assured:
it feeds a family, it feeds a soul.
I urge you to look further
than convention would dictate.

Dedicated to Rachel, with (a modicum of) love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s