You are all bog-born

Some notes on a walk to Fala Flow yesterday afternoon, during which I said to the moor: Please tell me about yourself. Ragged and incomplete … but a glimmer in it … something to develop.

I have room for you
but I am not for you
I am for myself and all that lives in me

I’ve been here a long time

I am earth and I am water
I am sedge and I am sky
I am chicken wire and culverts
4x4s and Barbour jackets
I am 7 dense metres of peat and raised moss
I am old, dead things
I am alive, alive, alive

You’ve skipped barefoot through my heather
and lain down among the mosses
with your fingers and your lusting
and your soft, pale bellies
You’ve made love
and made life
inside your dark, damp bodies
as I have in mine.

You are all bog-born.

When the plagues and the soldiers
marched up the Royal Road
north – south
east – west
you dressed your wounds in sphagnum
and you drank from the Flow.

When the khaki suits hunkered
in the bunkers at the mudflats
and the test bombs thundered
under Aberlady Bay,
I welcomed the geese
who were chased from their beds,
who were weary from the north
where the glaciers gleam.
I salved their pink feet in my cool lochan waters.

Since ever you arrived
I have looked after you,
with your digging and your draining
and your cutting and your clearing.

I’ve been fuel for your fire.
I’ve been light to see in winter.
I’ve been meat upon the table,
if you should be so lucky.

One year you burned me til my skin turned black
and my mouth like a desert couldn’t sob or sigh.
In the dry dust that followed I heard the moorcock cry:
go back go back go back

go back to what?
go back to where?

I am tired,
so tired of the tackit boots of keepers
and the clatter of the beaters
and the shotgun expeditions
that cost thirty grand a day.
And the EU directives
and the eco impact studies
and the economic models of your moorland plans.

It seems I need to be managed.
I do not know what’s best.

I am 12,000 years old.

And to those day-tripper walkers
who are out to find themselves
in the clear air of the day
and the laverock’s song –

You never slow to listen
to the pounding of their footsteps,
the crunching upon gravel,
the crinkling through the rushes,
the snapping in the muirburn
and the shlooping of the bog.

I am not your fucking muse.

It’s dusk and the moorcock cries:
go back go back go back

go back to what?
go back to where?

The first place you ever knew
was warm and wild and wet.
In that dark womb you grew.

You are all bog-born.


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