Madonna in the mid-Devon Meadows Lowering her hands from the clouds she smooths the swathe of her apple-green skirt – field-mice scuttle the tunnelling rhynes of her veins, her eyes are Neptune, Venus, her belly the Devon meadows lit with glowing wheat, her hips, the hedges – cicely, wild parsley, bedstraw – her girdle their green-gold figured brocade. Unfolding its soothsayers over the furrowed boughs of oak-leaf lap her scroll squirms ants, caterpillars, bees - warblers and wrens roost in her nooks and owls are hooting under Cassiopeia’s gaze. *** Here near the stream the alders where, following the stranded years when plague took its peopled toll the land heaves full of grief One whose heart stopped. One who bled with her last child. One who lost sight, then failed to hear cuckoo’s returning call. *** Don’t call our names Dead our Lady of the Goldfinch, we, who suppliants at your grounded feet held our whispered pagan rites as you rose with sun from the east each day, don’t remind us of the times we walked white brides beneath our wedding arch. We, who till we went under and became micro particles floating through your dusty air, lived for the turning soil at our feet, breathing the self-choices, stories of our lives dandelion seeds, away No one took the trouble to sketch or scribble even the limned edges of our lives back of history’s notepad, no poet set us down in exquisite verse. We were driven into the periphery, the hart’s tongue undergrowth of your side-lined hedge, the hidden inner boles of your unfathomable trees. For, although You and We are One We are Gone. No, don’t tell our names Dead Dead, our Lady of the Goldfinch, but speak of blackbirds in the beech field those air-blue butterflies levitating there above horizon’s east, instead call out the irradiating dust, our Lady of the Candelabra, watch it rise above our sheep-grazing grass, our breathing fields, our barley susurrating over the heavy land, where hares are mesmerised by moon, and the ladybird creeps from the depths of her stolen crevice - for we, with you, are one with chi in ivy seed, in spore of Lady fern.
Julie Sampson’s poetry is widely published. She edited Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems, 2009 (Shearsman Books); her collectionsare Tessitura(Shearsman Books, 2014) and It Was When It Was When It Was (Dempsey & Windle, 2018 ). She received an ‘honourable mention’ in the Survision James Tate Memorial Prize, in 2021. Her main website is at JulieSampson.