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The Bere Peninsula lies at the tidal end of the Tamar Valley, as far west in Devon as it is possible to venture. Made almost an island by the rivers Tamar and Tavy, it is a place of wild beauty and challenging isolation, of hardship and hard work, dynamite-shocked copses and flower‑filled verges.

In these poems of people and place, I chart the routes of belonging in a new home there. In poems as sensuous as the water’s lap I map its woods and waters, abandoned mine shafts and narcissi-lined lanes as I explore the link between internal and external landscape, memory and identity.


We are all on the run

This morning I circled the sloping woodland,

its gaping mine shafts, fly-tipped and ivy strangled,

the chimney on its perch, rook-claimed and crumbling.

And through the bramble the red flash of a dog fox,

thundering the hoof-churned field, scarlet-haunted.

It had been weeks of rain, everything gone to ground,

but today there was blue in the sky, the chase back on.

In the lane a pheasant bustled in the hedgerow, rose,

screeching, into the open air. 

From you are here by Ysella Sims


Greensand

You built your home on greensand,

chalk-ridged and sister-hilled,

dreaming over again your family’s 

songlines, in bluebell copses

and sunstriped beech woods.

But you shook your roots, tapped 

and feathered, trailed them west     

to where the air was easter-scented 

and you were five years old 

again, making miniature gardens

from moss, pushing forget-me-nots

and primroses into stolen egg cups.

In the river-bound valley you hear 

trees, vellumed by moss

rise up, 

lichen-mottled

to speak to the light,

fern-shrouded

and whispering

in the primal dark.

You find the flowers of your 

girlhood in the swerve 

of the lanes, sound 

out their echoes,

begin to gather new songs.


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