Flanders Moss Writers’ Group
Flanders Moss – Linna Monteath
From the grey of everyday
the argent and sable moth heralds
a path of black and white
among silver birch bark
and fine black sedge
crested lark heads of white climbing fumitory
four-petalled windmills of sweet woodruff
a mass demonstration of bog cotton
waving white flags
over dark pools.
Seven thousand years of ice
and sea, and sea and ice
carved, scoured, washed and sanded
Seven fathoms deep the moss now,
the standing strands of sphagnum
compacting down to peaty history
but reaching up for light
holding radiance in sea-anemone fronds.
A soft green bowl of precious, pristine world
absorbing our breath and our fumes
from the grey of everyday.
The Carse Moss – Chris Powici
flat land deep land
nothing higher than scrub birch
between you and those miles-away mountains
heat-hazed and blue in the distance
the very air feels empty, cleansed
and so you look down
down through the wind-shivered seedheads
of hare’s tail bog cotton
to shallow beetle-furrowed pools
fringed by quaggy almost-islands
of deer grass and heather still to bloom
and the sheer living green of the moss itself
infinite low-rise of sphagnum
intricate and crowded as a city
and all of it floating
on seven thousand years of peat
soft land dark land
earth on the verge of becoming water
earth you could drown in –
the cool rich stuff of death
oozing its slow milky mud
just a step
just a thought away
then a bird shrieks
you look up
and the June air’s crammed
with damselflies, gull wings, light.
Moss Lairds – Charlie Gracie
They came from the glens in the higher lands
cleared like weeds for the sheep by the fat lairds
scraped their way from one job to another.
When they met the Moss, they fought it hard
tugged the life from it
tossed its sodden heart into the Forth
watched it float, brown and drowned
to the sunrise and the flat wide firth.
All the skill of men and all the skill of women
squeezed out of the brown ooze
flushed into the river, nothing now but waste.
For eight thousand years this place had grown
feeding on the rain and the deadness within it
layering and dying and breathing
all its fierce life a collaboration of moss
all its beauty a wet thing of the wind and rain.
Now, a rump of Moss holds on
a soft jewel set in the flat land
slowly forming in lucent green
the Moss Lairds’ shouts blown to the hills
their whispers buried in peat.
Sphagnum Moss – Isobel McGuire
Aeons ago your ancestors
Founded that first layer.
Like you their needs were few –
Water and light to fuel their purpose
And nourish their rootless frames.
Now their emerald, russet and
Apple green colonies
Are the foundations of a tower of peat –
Deep, deep down in the depths of the moss.
And you, in turn, will follow the pattern.
Mirror – Sally Evans
I hear the water swishing down,
this equilibrium of rain.
I think of waterfalls and trees
leaves dipped with liquid weight,
river floods that rush and foam
from cloud and burn to strath and firth
but more, how the wet-sated moss
blinks this raised mirror full of light,
invites parched earthlings to stumble
and plowter in its star-shaped ponds,
of patchy depths and aqueous animals
their lives made possible by mist and rain
as my life has been made possible in Scotland,
this country I love for its rain.
Moss Haiku – Suzanne Humphris
Papery rustle –
Look for the sound,
A full blue bowl
of sky and cloud –
I feel small.
look for the sundew –
February on flanders moss – Magi Gibson
In morning sunshine
feathers black as mourning silk
death perches on a leafless tree
wraithed in mists, dark firs wait
like forgotten Roman armies
doomed to haunt the edge of time
a scots pine, stunted, stands
its branches gnarled as an ancient’s hands
begging kindness from the passing clouds
in a flat green field, ditched around with brown
a scarecrow leans, the next along lies
face-down in the mud, nameless
soldier in the Somme
a shot rings out, twenty herons lift
into a sky of gun-metal grey
forty wings in a flap
late evening sun slants, the moss
beneath my feet makes
human gurgling sounds
behind my back my shadow stretches
a silent ghost
Flanders Moss – Isobel McGuire
Swooping gull and hovering kestrel,
Cotton grass, bog asphodel,
Peaty pools that mirror skies,
Chuckling stonechat, croaking frog
In this wild primeval bog.