A chick among the chickens

My boyfriend’s family are poultry farmers in North Yorkshire, and last year he took me in to see the little yellow chicks as soon as they had arrived.

I was struck by how many there were, and how similar and distinct they were to one another. So many birds passing nameless through that shed. How small a mark each little chicken’s life makes on the world around it. I picked one up and held it for a little while, the moment staying with me.

I wrote this poem earlier in the year and edited it with the kind help of the poet, Alyson Hallett.  

Roll back the sun
turn off the lights,
let even the dogs go quiet
for just a moment.

Hold your hands as if in prayer
as you grip the small one-
a small thing
the colour of June
and hear her heart
against your thumb.

No mother hen to look for you,
you won’t be missed.

But I’ll remember as I hold you,
and after too.

Ash Lea. A poem

Whenever I can, I visit the lake district with friends. There is a house there where someone dear to me would always go with their family.

It is small and built of slate. It has no heating, no phones, no cd player and definitely no internet. The house has a rich library of four records: ‘The Best of Boney M’, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’, The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and ‘The best of Simon and Garfunkel’. The house sits beneath massive ridges and green, green fields and hosts a consortium of sheep in its garden. The front door is red.

Like this poem, the house is called Ash Lea.

Ash Lea



Plummy, thickset heather

growing close by Slater’s bridge,

dipping perse

and easy into water

where you would swim

when you were growing too.



Smells of history

round a swampy mere

where purple plants torn up by children’s

chubby fingers

were carried back

like precious treasures

to Ash Lea.



Mauvish heads

jammed with clumsy concentration

in to dusty jars

like scented English feathers

to sit, lake-ish offerings

on your family’s kitchen table.




to be jealous of a flower.