You are not purer because of your holiday
I want to live like the land. I want to do
whatever, Nature. I want to sleep with the old skills.
No but yeah sure: getting back to, reconnecting.
No but yeah, reclaiming. I want to live like
the price of Hand-Baked Bread. I want to do whatever,
glamping in a yurt. I want to sleep with
washing machines and central heating. No but yeah sure.
I want to live like an authentic artisan
wicker basket. I want to do whatever, chucking
lettuce heads onto a conveyor belt. I want
to sleep with plastic tarps, scavenged-wood fire. No but
I want to live like foraged chantarelles. I want
to do whatever, in a fulfilment centre/warehouse,
packing boxes/leeks. I want to sleep with the motorway,
the garage at 5 am, the 12-hour shift. No,
I want to live. I want to do. I want to.
Note: The lines in italics are filched from the chorus of ‘Common People’, by Pulp.
(the word for a moment escaping me
or rather resisting, incalcitrant
to my reaching and beckoning, it will not
step forward and so the child, I say
the deer’s child): its ears sharp-alarm-angled,
it springs for purchase on the bank. We pause
to give it time, gain its footholds, disappear.
That pine smell – I think, toilet cleaner – and there,
the doe. Thin legs and those definite ears,
pointing like fingers straight at us: this. threat.
Every time I come back here, a change:
a clearing I remember in a stand of oaks
now planted up with conifers and thick
with scratchy density, the trees I leant against
for first cigarette, for sex, for telling to,
now gone, gone the air and slant from the sky.
Now this. The word comes later to me, the child
struggling towards its parent, leaping up the red bank.
L’aprés-midi d’un faune: I used to play it, practising
in a fug of bracken sap at the edge
of a field of larch, felled at the base,
now thick with growth again.
Meryl Pugh lives in East London and teaches for the Poetry School. Her first, full collection,
Natural Phenomena (2018, Penned in the Margins), was a PBS Spring Guest Choice and
longlisted for the inaugural Laurel Prize. Her most recent publication is Feral Borough (2022,
Penned in the Margins).