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Alan Humm: a poem

The Peak District

Evening. The grass, as bright as snow,

thickens and dulls; becomes a mottled flank.

It breathes, I swear. The starkness of the rocks

is just the cold you feel when nature turns its back.

The camp site – its emollient politeness – is a sleight of hand,

as is the pub: bottles faux-permanently on display

and jokes that are barely jokes. Code, rather; morse.

The darkness prowls outside.

The cold lay on my face all night.

I searched the tent, its strange dimensions,

with my eyes. My daughter ate her beans.

She smiled and read the guidebook;

any unwillingness she felt would be abraded

by the glories of the day.

You dominate, and then accept,

the place you're in. You find that you are smiling

and the sheep – their eyes like glowing objects

and their raptly conscious mouths –

are suddenly more alien than you.

Alan Humm is the editor of One Hand Clapping.

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