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

Monday 16 January 2017

Lost Species poem 17: Elizabeth Rimmer

Today's poem, with its engaging title and subtle unfolding, is from Elizabeth Rimmer.

Explaining a Few Things to Neruda

You will ask why my poetry
speaks of leaves and green rivers
and that family of goosanders
spinning and diving and drifting downstream
on the ebb tide this rainy morning.

Where are the unemployed? you ask,
the litter, the broken windows,
graffiti curse-words and allegations,
the lost generation, the hope of revolution?

You will ask why my poetry is so pretty,
all those woodlands and winter skies,
when jobs are scarce and art is strangled
and freedom is bought and sold with oil.

In those fields we have no lapwings,
no hares, a stillness of yellow rape,
and wheat after barley after wheat.
The skylark song is quenched in rain.
The moon rises over green absence.

Once there were bitterns in those reeds -
salmon, kingfisher, tufted duck,
children at the village school – all gone.
We wash the guilt of extinction off our hands.
Oh, see, the blood of extinction on our hands!

© Elizabeth Rimmer

This poem was first published in Dark Mountain 3, and then in Elizabeth's second collection The Territory of


  1. Industrial farming and year after year of the same crops using more and more chemicals to try to get them to grow in soil made infertile and lifeless is causing untold damage to our wildlife. I have a garden full of mole hills and take it as a beautiful sign of healthy, wormy soil.

  2. I utterly agree, of course, Angie. I was shocked and really outraged last night when I went out into our garden in the dark: we live in a valley where about 6 other people have bought a few acres each, and it happens that all of us are into organic growing and/or permaculture, and tree planting. NO-ONE uses chemicals; but someone close by had clearly tractor-sprayed a whole swathe of land, and the valley was full of toxic fumes brought on a nor'westerly, bad enough as to catch the back of my throat, and it stayed raw all evening.

    Devastating to think of its effect on wildlife (foxes, badgers, hare and deer visit our garden; some live in it) now and ongoingly. And yesterday someone told me that the second of our pair of buzzards had been found dying; the vet said poison. Rat poison, I imagine, from the beef farm - barn-reared bullocks - up the road. Grrr.


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