Lockdown Saturday. A poem by Rachel Burns

A dead lapwing
in the farmer’s empty fallow field
sunken eyes.
In the distance the rip-roaring
sound of a chainsaw
as trees are felled
on scrubland.
It makes me think of that Les Murray poem
but I can’t remember how it goes.
I hear the rasp and wing rattle
of a pheasant, as it launches
itself clumsily through the trees.
A red balloon rests
against the trunk of a tree
nestled in green ramson leaves,
the smell of garlic strong.
The woods are alive with bird song
and there is another smell
the smell of decay
as ferns unfurl themselves
like seahorses on the forest floor,
alongside mouse-eared chickweed,
celandine, doves foot cranesbill
a small cluster of bluebells.
Ivy strangles the lifeblood
from the beech trees
the trunks are mottled black
like ancient tattoos,
a tree has collapsed
toppled into a rainbow arch.
My daughter plays in the river
next to a rusted car,
she retrieves a colourful plastic toy
from the car wreck
that has lost its song a long time ago.
Her brother calls to her –
Stay away from the wreck
you will cut yourself,
but she can’t hear him
his voice is lost in the river flow.


Rachel Burns’ poetry is widely published in journals and anthologies. She was runner-up in the BBC Poetry Proms 2019 competition and her poem broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Her debut poetry pamphlet, ‘A Girl in a Blue Dress’ is published by Vane Women Press. Here website is here.

1 Comment

  1. I love this poem! I have been posting a wild-flower and an associated poem each day of the lockdown. This poem summarises the walks in the woods and the fields where the flora is found. Thank you

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