The Nine Ladies on Stanton Moor

Adam Thorpe

We know you’ve got a thing about us,
scuffing the earth at our feet,
giving us a voice. Like this.

We know about the groans we’ve heard,
the yelps in moonlight, rumours of progeny.
Bellies keep pressing us; we decline.

Thunder on the moor and your effeteness
assured, we think of us as crown
whetted on the storm, not bald queans.

We know about the influx of coach parties;
the way their crisp-packet ordinariness
ruffles you, the way they laugh as they count us.

We have tumbled from the sky’s favour.
We know we are emblazoned by tussocks,
heather, hawthorn. We have erred, somehow.

Stars! We look up to them. Clear nights
remind us of their massive dignities;
we know what we have known, but forgotten.

One of us is missing. We know this.
Buffed by the flanks of cows, she swings
a gate. We hear her, complaining, often.

Adrift on moorland, we are tethered.
Far off on a skyline, we have caught you.
We dance what we know; you are frozen.

Cromlechs rise routinely from mists:
we are granite lumps. We know
how ugly we are, and once how lovely.