Caught by the River

Bog Asphodel: a poem by James Brookes

20th July 2017

Sun up, first Sunday after Candlemas. I took the corpse road
through first frost, vision prickled with lens flare as though I’d taken
a blow to the head or been dead drunk and only just come to.
I couldn’t pick out the orange flowers of narthecium
, that’ll brittle the bones of the yearling lambs,
the Lancashire asphodel, that which ought not to do down here.
I well know the flare of a corpse candle to be no such thing,
a barn owl’s bioluminescent wingtip, its barrel roll
over the hollow of an elm crippled by honey fungus
smearing my path with the enzyme ‘luciferase’.
To Warnham’s living lychgate, then, its arch of thickening yew
like the new year: not death but a vital and lustrous darkness.
On the way back, a hare shone in the narthex of its form.


James Brookes reads on our Port Eliot stage next Sunday, as part of Poetry Hour. See all our stage times here.