Volte-face – a poem by Jane Angué


Beardless old man’s beard,
unflowered honeysuckle,
brambles dead in alive
above the hillside-cutting path,
hanks entwined,
scrabbling ivy latched
onto sad firs in plantation ranks.

On the brink
shrugging downy oaks
stealing footholds, uninvited also
among this lightless throng;
stationed along the track,
juice-green saucered spurge
targets earth space.

The black-breached bank
sucks in the eye,
tree-dark magnetic paradox
pulls us in to touch the dank,
threatens thorns: keep out
the unrooted, always running,
washing our earth from their hands.

Below, slopes shorn, scattered
rusted iron-black rocks, cold stones
Above, matted grasses slump
fringing the wood barred
by tree heather’s dried bouquets.
One sword lily, shouting Schiaparelli.
If only.
Her spike points another way,

where crumpled rock roses
inch to the other side,
straddling scree, pink pin-pricked
with thyme, sprigged with lavender,
sprayed with heather
still dabbed in white,
fingertips dipped in cream that tastes of honey,
downy oaks stretching
breeze-swept limbs in light.


Jane Angué teaches English Language and Literature in France. Writing in French and English, work was longlisted for the Erbacce Prize 2018 and 2019 and has appeared most recently in Le Capital des Mots, Ink Sweat & Tears, Acumen and Poésie/première. Her pamphlet des fleurs pour Bach was published in August (Editions Encres Vives).

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