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2 poems by Meryl Pugh

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).


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