Two poems by Andrew Forster


The last time the electricity failed,
we watched through the window in settling dusk
as vans rumbled into the field next door
and workers in yellow tunics gathered by
the telegraph pole like pilgrims. Floodlights,
like artificial moons, cast the grass
in a white sheen. One worker shimmied up, others
rapt beneath, mumbling what looked like prayers.
No sudden blaze, but as they pulled away
we felt the certainty of returning light.

Back in Yorkshire, during the strikes,
powercuts were balanced around districts.
With no television, we were forced
to talk to each other, while we played Scrabble
in the glow of candles, ignoring shadows
flickering around us, and when light
returned everything to its proper place
I ran to the window to watch
the small miracle of darkness
as it took over the estate below us.
Humphrey Head

The last wolf in England was hunted here
where the headland rises, such a dazzling white
that people once believed fairies painted it.
Limestone shelves and pillars jut from sand
and in the tender light of early evening
the path between them feels like a street
in a deserted city. Tiny streams
trickle like rain from broken gutters.

A wolf in flight seems almost to float
which could be why we’ve made them monsters:
shape-shifters, vampires, the very Devil;
but as this wolf moved like floodwater over fields
to Newby Bridge, over Coniston Old Man
and down to where the waters of Windermere
gently tongued the shore, could those who saw it
feel other than longing to race beside it?

Back at last it ran out of land
and waited on the beach for the last hunter,
as still and spent as a dried-out riverbed.
Now, in the hour of long shadows, sheep
graze the saltmarsh. They don’t even pause
as I stroll past, secure in their position.
From far out, a child laughs, or cries,
the sound shimmering above the bay.
Andrew Forster has two collections of poems published by Flambard Press, Fear of Thunder and Territory. Fear of Thunder was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2008, and poems from it are included in the AQA GCSE syllabus. He reads as part of the Poetry Live series. A collaboration with the artist Hugh Bryden, Digging, was published by Ronacdora Press in 2008 and the orginal artwork and poems were exhibited in several galleries. A new collection is due in late 2014. He works as Literature Officer for the Wordsworth Trust, and runs their acclaimed contemporary poetry programme.