Devil’s Rope
           For A.T.

‘… black too the muscles striving to pull out into the light.’ – Ted Hughes

Vicious gibbet, Crow hanging by a tendon in her foot,
snagged, we surmised, as she landed on the wire –
then numerous attempts to free herself, wings beseeching the air,
excavations of pain deep within her brain.

Collateral crucifixion, we could barely speculate
on the time it took to die – now, beak pointing at the ground,
leg muscles torn, claws set round the barb
in an improvised ‘e’ (‘e’ for epitaph, ‘e’ for entreaty),

the wind mocks Crow’s former vitality, ruffling
greyish down, lifting the stiff, pleated feathers,
twitching her tail. Later I return to vigil with her, seated
on the grassy bank beside the horses’ pasture –

this silent wake on lunar Beltane, the Sun
etching steel clouds over Midlothian, and touch
a veil of horror hanging round the black cadaver,
mourn this mirror of our culture’s darkness.

Earlier you’d affirmed my capacity to face the world’s suffering
and yet to love. Moved by this observation and sorrow,
tears flow in streaks as I lift my face to the sky – a peripheral
awareness of mare and stallion ambling across. 

Tender scoops of nostril huff in the scent of death,            
then rising of over the devil’s rope, a pair of equine angels
snuffles with velvet lips at my cheeks, stands in slow communion –
‘e’ for empathy, ‘e’ for ennoblement of Crow.  




The Clearing Moon

Sometimes it takes a house-move to see things clearly –
stuff (with its underwritten stories) pressing in from every side
like the saggy padding of the sofa where we sink
when part of us has died.

Last night, full Moon in Sagittarius, and a burning wish
to build a funeral pyre for old expressions
of myself – belongings piled
to fuel a conflagration raging to the sky.

But the constraints of an urban garden
required a taming of my ambitions – so the wok on tripod
legs sited on the lawn, and into the flames
sheaves of notebooks, letters, Valentine’s cards,

the marriage album in natural fibres, and How to Survive
a Pisces. The fire wanted more, and soon devoured 
bundled scrolls with my qualifications… (for what, Life?
In all these years no one’s ever asked to see them!) 

Over three hours I stoked the swirling dance
of transformation… the magic of the smoking poker,
blackened leaves of paper curling,
making fragile rows of Bracket Fungus.

Often the wind conjured Fire-flies
out over the lawn, or bigger satellites that rose
and fell like Toadstools, wondrous orange spots
winking into night. 

Finally, the Moon rising behind chimneypots…
clouds vividly back-lit, before an inky wash
would come to blot it out.
Such moments were mirrors…

the mind, unquiet for days, settling into stillness
as I raked the embers, observed thoughts,
my emotions’ ebb and flow… until at last the ego floated
in subterranean rivers of the soul





[Helen Moore is an award-winning ecopoet and socially engaged artist based in Frome, Somerset. Her debut poetry collection, Hedge Fund, And Other Living Margins (Shearsman Books, 2012), was described by Alasdair Paterson as being ‘in the great tradition of visionary politics in British poetry.’ Her second collection, ECOZOA (Permanent Publications, 2015), which responds to Thomas Berry’s vision of the ‘Ecozoic Era’, where we live in harmony ‘with the Earth as community’ has already been acclaimed by a leading literary figure, John Kinsella, as ‘a milestone in the journey of ecopoetics.’]


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