Oak by Maggie Butt



Maggie Butt is an ex-journalist and BBC television producer turned poet and novelist.

Her poetry collection Degrees of Twilight (2015) follows Sancti Clandestini – Undercover Saints, an illustrated hagiography of imaginary saints, and  Ally Pally Prison Camp, which tells a little-known first world war story. Earlier collections were petite and Lipstick. Her novel House of Dreams was published as Maggie Brookes.

Maggie is an Associate Professor at Middlesex University and an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund. She has judged the Frogmore, Ver Poets and Barnet poetry competitions, and this year is judging the Ware and Segora.









Two blazingsummers in my life, where reservoirs

drain to reveal villages; where homes turn inside-out,

tipping us to eat-dance-wander in warm evening-air;

where fields bleach scandiblonde from rain-deprived

weeks; where sun, on holiday from Nevada or Nice, ripens

wheat to undulating flaxen-bright, ringed by deeper

rooted hedges which remain valiantlygreen, like moats

lapping-round the fields; and sometimes there’s a tree

where it’s stood for hundreds-of-years, through dampdank

summers and threeday heatscorch, centred on the field

like an illustration of the unmistakable lift-and-spread

which says Oak, a deepdark green silhouette

against straw-stubble; and a slimbreeze wanders

through its branches, stroking 30 species of lichen

tickling 350 species of insects, all rustling-moving

mating-growing-eating, never knowing their luck

to makehome in this cool-viridian shade, unfathomable

as my fortune to be born into thisplace, thiscentury,

to find these-loves, this larksong, thistle-down life.

Maggie Butt