On the Margins

Read this as you will. Sometimes, walking along the side of a wide piece of land, I start thinking about as much about the metaphor of the path as about the path itself.

Hedges & Edges

We go ever on the margins:
On the dusky ways between dawn & day,
On the tracks between grieving and dancing,
On the paths between sunlight & starlight.

We travel along the wheat field’s edges:
Between burned-out grasses & ripened grain,
Between plough-blades’ brutal mastery & the distant
Good intentions of flooded ditch & broken gate.

We tread beside the beguiling bind & twine
Of wildflowers blowing in the hedgerow;
Under birdsong murmuring from bramble arches
And the babble of skylarks in clouds of barley.

We step beside hazel-wands bent, laid & woven
Into ancient hedge tapestries by men with cunning hands;
Beside the shrewder wisdoms of song-thrushes & wrens
That build their nests in secret twig-forks.

Always we walk on the margins, on the edges
Of doubt, despair & giddy exaltation—
Any time & every time we climb the steep, slow hills of hope
Above, beside, those sunlit starry hedges.

© Lizzie Ballagher

new hedge laid to hornbeam, hazel and birch nr Hothfield2015-05-25 13.10.26IMG_1045


I’m guessing many followers of this blog have felt, at least once, that strange sense of belonging in a particular place—usually without fully understanding why. It’s a curious sensation, one I’ve revisited recently in this new poem: “Roots”.

Before long buried great-grandmothers knew to count the years,
We here took root. I know it in my bones
As I rustle over hawthorn leaves’ brown layers,
Or over opalescent beads of churchyard snowdrops,
Or as I roam across the uplands’ sky-flecked flint,
The clifftops & the chalk-striped fields of home.

From burnt-out stars, my dust, my DNA, my ashes—
All are here: the past, the present & the yet-to-come
In future generations’ tales already traced
And tracked on winding trails where, deep below,
Our roots run long & strong beneath the downs;
For miles—millennia & miles—they mine these hills.

From trunks, from tibias they spread their metatarsals
Drawing water from the pools & wells of rain,
From springs in folded clay & shale beds.
Their dry roots tangle, cleave & cling; turn & twine;
Drive fibrous fingers, thin phalanges in
Through waves and weaves of moss-stained greensand.

I feel the pulse and push of heart & foot,
The thrum of sap, the throb of blood,
The rise of hope without the reasons
While lives deep-rooted round me grow,
While trees green-shooted round me know
The stream & surge of changing seasons.

© Lizzie Ballagher

2015-01-27 11.43.44  2015-01-25 13.56.25