On the Heath – a poem by Erica Jane Morris

On the Heath

After the Temptation (Luke 4: 1-13)


There were skeletons of gorse, blackened
heather, scorched bracken. I had walked 
for days along narrow tracks, finding 

a clearing, where a man was shouting, 
head down, hands clenched, frowning
at his shadow; his words muffled 

in churning wind. He hunched down 
by a pile of stones. I moved closer – 
he wore a shirt, loose and torn,

laid his head on his knees, hair tangled
with dried mud, leaves. He looked up
– sores and sand on his face, lips sliced, 

The wind spun, turning me as I slept, 
he said. He lowered his head, shoulders
trembling, nails fierce on his forehead. 

There was a gash on his hand. Here –
let me look, I said. He placed the hand 
under his arm by his ribs, shook his head.

We sat on burnt ground, amongst stubble,
the murk of dusk. I asked him his name – 
I am any one of us, he said.

Erica Jane Morris was shortlisted for the Mairtín Crawford Award for Poetry 2021 and was a finalist in the Mslexia Poetry Competition 2021. She has an MA in Writing Poetry (University of Newcastle and The Poetry School). Her work is published in ChannelLunateMslexia and The High Window, and is forthcoming in the Live Cannon Anthology 2022.

1 Comment

  1. Johanna says:

    Extraordinary poem! Thank you.
    Johanna Caton, O.S.B.

    Liked by 1 person

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