Tim Beech

The Praise Singer
(For Geoffrey Hill)

A holly bush stands within the unroofed walls
Of a disused foundry on King’s Hill, Darlaston;
Dark leaves glazed with sweat and difficult,
Berries, the hard-won blood of forgiveness,
Pointing towards grace or the idea of grace.

Memory, part-recovered, part-revealed
Of forged iron, wood and the struggle for meaning,
From the black-rainbow reflection of sump oil
To dead leaves at the foot of the holly,
Shaping precisely the edge-tool of words.


I lie on a bed of black thorns
Each poison tip piercing my skin.
So long in the cold, so long out of the sun
I am winter’s lingering shade.

I breathe deeply as if asleep,
My eyes wide, staring elsewhere;
I see death waiting on the near horizon
Like a sunset through mist.

The moon, three days off the full,
Clears clouds of black silk
To a sudden silver light along the branch.
I stir, shuddering into the icy winds of spring.

Goss Moor

About a lunar landscape, terraced mountains
Of white clay waste, an army of scrub
Advances, laying siege to a land unloved.

The cattle riddled with ticks and red water
Nose carefully around the unknown depths
Of abandoned tin mines become floating mires.

And can it be that I should gain redemption
Amongst the old chapels and temperance halls,
In this compelling beauty of loss.

Tim Beech © 2014
poems taken from the forthcoming Triptych (Waterloo Press, 2014)