Featured Poem: ‘At Burscough, Lancashire’

Helen Tookey is a Liverpool-based writer and editor. Her collection of poetry, Telling the Fractures, a collaboration with photographer Alan Ward, was published in May 2008. The poems tell of love, death, and time, of childhood and the passing of generations. The poem ‘At Burscough, Lancashire,’ first appeared in The Reader, issue 27 and tells of West Lancashire’s ‘moss’, a flatland that was once a vast lake.

At Burscough, Lancashire

Lancashire’s Martin Mere was the largest lake in England when it was first drained to reclaim land for farming, in 1697.

Out on the ghost lake, what’s lost
is everywhere: murmuring in names
on the map, tasted in salt winds
that scour the topsoil, westerlies
that wrenched out oaks and pines, buried now
in choked black ranks, heads towards the east.
Cloudshadows ripple the grasses as the seines
rippled over the mere by night, fishervoices calling
across dark water. Underfoot, the flatlands’
black coffers lie rich with the drowned.

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