from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Lost Species poem 6: Lesley Quayle

Lesley Quayle's poem today addresses the wider issue of loss of habitat, a major contributor to loss of species, of course.

For Planes To Fly

For planes to fly,
they needed land. They needed
meadows, becks and woods. They needed gardens.
They needed setts and dens and forms and burrows,
dewponds, farmyards, one old farmhouse
sheltering downwind of the flight-path.
Barn owls evicted, a heronry unfledged,
crow colonies uprooted, scattered,
foxes and elusive fallow deer exiled,
migrants of the edgelands.
And where I watched the milk-breathed cattle,
hares boxing through whiskery grasses,
where yellow rattle, clover, chamomile
and thyme beguiled small bees,
whole galaxies of butterflies
and stained-glass, steampunk dragonflies,
a pyroclastic flow of runways, aprons,
hotels, car-parks smelts the landscape,
long draughts of tarmac crowned with concrete,
set with steel and glass – the sheen of progress.
And when we said we minded–
for the beetles, for the tiny spiders, for palmate newts
and small, brown frogs, discreet, squat toads,
for fish fry in the beck, wild orchids,
a parlous glint in primrose banks –
they frowned, noodled their brows
their environmental dyslexia profound.
‘For planes to fly, we need the land.’

Lesley Quayle

Lesley says: 'The poem... was written in response to an article in the 'Yorkshire Post' about recent proposals to expand and develop Leeds/Bradford airport to cater for their desired passenger throughput from 3 million p.a. to 5.1 Since the airport is built on top of a moor, surrounded by agricultural land and greenbelt, small farming communities and towns, the continuing desecration of flora, fauna and human habitats continues unabated despite the environmental cost.'


  1. "Stained glass, steampunked dragonflies" - what an amazing line this is. I hope this planned expansion doesn't go ahead but I suspect it will. Which, in addition to the planned expansion at Heathrow makes a complete mockery of the government's ratification of the Paris Agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

    1. Thank you. I'm afraid this proposal is set to be approved with work probably beginning next year. So sad.

  2. Yes, her language is lovely. I suspect it already has gone ahead.

    And I discovered yesterday that beneath one of Heathrow's runways is an earthwork possibly as significant as Maiden Castle in Dorset; so several thousand years old. How can they get away with all these levels of destruction?


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