Poems by Elizabeth Barton



I found it in a field –
a kestrel's feather, beaded

with dew and as I picked it up
it stirred a wildness deep within me.

I was struck by its bold design –
cream and chestnut barbs tigered

with brown, the way its shaft traced
the curve of my palm like a life line

and I thought: what I'd give for a taste
of the kestrel's short, fierce life.

I looked up and longed
for the sight of a falcon folding

the world in her fiery embrace,
head still, wings flickering,

her fantail tipped with light
and on my way home

the feather sang
like a hollow reed

summoning me
from this shadow life

to open sky,
a pen to write with

Elizabeth Barton
Published in Agenda, 'New Generation Poets', 2016


When Swedish botanist,
Carolus Linnaeus, first came to England
and saw the gorse in bloom
it's said he fell to his knees in wonder –
perhaps it was the scent of coconut, the sight
of prickly spires with gaudy yellow mouths like snagged
sunlight, that made him glad to be alive.

Since then, we've banished it
to the ragged edges of our minds
but the gorse keeps rising, sulphurous spikes
erupting from ditches, breaching
the banks of the motorway, needling us
with memories of a harsher age when the land was wild and open
and gorse crackled in our hearths.

Elizabeth Barton
Published in Agenda, 'New Generation Poets', 2016