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The Girl in the Oak

Atop Troopers Hill
my angel of dust ascends
masked in ancient oak

bearing witness
to the choke of the city
its broken ghosts

that have overslept
to wake on this dead rock
extinct: time up

lost in dreams
of tall ferns feathering
Carboniferous skies

still, each night
I will turn out your light
my sleeping angel

yours eternally
the last image I will see
before darkness

before this burden
we have dumped on you
breaks me for good


Image copyright Paul atten Ash, 2021
Paul says:

Troopers Hill, which overlooks the River Avon and the city of Bristol beyond, is 300 million years old and the hillside has been quarried and mined for hundreds of years. The black void at the centre of the image is there intentionally to draw the eye deep into its well. This motif is integral to the poem – ‘masked in ancient oak’ – the girl has become part-tree. I took the black burr or scar where a branch has fallen (visible in the image) from the oak and used this as a ‘void’ or ‘mask’ to represent not only physical scars but also wounds that are unseen and internal – an ‘inner extractivism’ during an ‘age of exhaustion’.

Paul atten Ash is a writer and photographer based in Bristol, UK. His poetry has appeared in Envoi, Raw Edge, Tandem, and Understanding. He won the International Library of Poetry Open Amateur Poetry Contest and has been published in two anthologies, Songs of Senses and Memories of the Millennium. Paul’s photography engages with the themes of landscape, nature, and mythology. As a recording artist and composer he has released music as North Sea Navigator (aka Paul Nash), written and produced scores for screen, and he is one half of the choral ambient electronica duo holmes + atten ash.

Campsite Bio: https://campsite.bio/northseanavigator
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/north_sea_navigator
Saatchi Art: https://www.saatchiart.com/paulattenash


#climate grief, #collapse, #poetry

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