Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer

Poetry Scotland

  • The Year of the Soil

    The UN has declared 2015 as The Year of the Soil, because of world-wide problems with erosion, degradation and pollution. You can find out more about this here, and follow events during the year on the Soil Association website.

    I have actually written a poem about soil – particularly the soil in my own home patch. It appeared last year in Poetry Scotland.


    The wind swings round to north of west
    and cold in it catches like a roughened nail
    on the glib satin fabric of this spring afternoon.

    I study soil and think of the pale pasty stuff
    of the fields with never a weed or a worm in it,
    only a few sullen crows lifting their barbed wire feet
    between the new wheat stalks. No hares now,
    or curlews, and skylarks fewer and arriving late.

    On the riverbank soil is an invertebrate fizz
    and ferment of squirm and wriggle. Oystercatchers
    peep and nose the mud, hold late-night sessions
    of whistling and mending imagined fences.
    Heron stalks there listening to rumours
    of kingfisher’s blue electric flypast.

    In the gardens the soil is deep and dark
    and full of broken china, rubble of half-bricks,
    the bowls of clay pipes. As I dig the onion bed,
    seeds from other gardeners, poppy, marigold,
    columbine and wild pansy, come to light, and flower
    between my untidy aspirations.

    Recidivist gardener, neither first here,
    nor last, I leave seeds too – borage, nasturtium,
    blue-flowered alkanet. I am grounded here,
    roots in this earth. They’ll never get rid of me.

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