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11 July 2016

“Bark world“: a new poem by Olivia Byard

"Rough, tough to touch, / grooved ridged scaled".

By Olivia Byard

Rough, tough to touch,
grooved ridged scaled –
     textures and fissures
teeming with the fuss and
stress of being –
    dark crevices
crammed with mini-beasts
– woodlice, beetles, borers –
and wispy spiders, that scurry
across burled highways –
        algae
lichen moss growing warmth, cover
over tiny birds tight in dark holes,
feather to feather, beak to beak
– a claw here, an eye there –
flutter shuffle, first squawks
and squeaks –
    and the deep inside,
where sap rises rich and quick,
grains, circles, lines,
the yearly marks of tell-time –
         old time,
now time, pest, blight, disease time,
warming time, losing time,
a stopped clock at felled time.

Olivia Byard’s books include The Wilding Eye: New and Selected Poems (Worple Press).

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This article appears in the 06 Jul 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit bunglers