. Geese on the Moor On Laddow Moss the April air is cold And still. A single pair of wayward geese We find beside a tarn, their nest of fleece And feather sprigs of springy heather hold Together. Once we found marsh marigold Up here but now its meagre straggles cease Their struggles to increase, stave off decease: Too cold to let bog asphodel unfold. The calm and peacefulness at night avails Us in communion with the earth that fails Us in the gales of March: listen, give ear: The constant heartbeat of the earth you’ll hear. Enwrapped in darkness, lost to human sight, The geese keep lonely vigil through the night. . . A Burial on the Moor We buried him upon the moss, three feet It was below the level of the bog, No need had he for linen winding sheet Nor woollen shroud to fight the freezing fog. Forlorn are they and cheerless, cold and bleak, The moors. The wintry winds shriek down the cloughs Unleashing constant driving rain. The reek Of soaking peat pervades the barren groughs, In places eight feet deep, and when it teems The crumbling sheer walls of the haggs collapse Into the grains or rivulets that feed the streams And change their range and bearing on the maps. Surviving rain and hail and sleet and snow, The bog is always deeper where we know The sphagnum moss and other mosses grow And turn to peat, the moss of long ago. The brown hare looks so foolish in its coat Designed for winter wear, a cynosure Upon the moss. So too sometimes the stoat Bears snow-white fur that pads across the moor. The cairn we built above his grave a guide For twenty years the icy winds defied Till one day it was scattered far and wide Across the moor, across the mountainside. We built another cairn a few months on With flatter stones above his bones to pave What lies below. The birds must know for none Will ever sing or hop about his grave. A place to sit and view the wilderness, We could be anywhere, though close to this Great teeming wen seen to the west, far less A city, more a megalopolis. The humus tang on brumous days would drown The scent of heather on the moors and still The sphagnum moss, the tawny, umber-brown And bitter taste of acid peat would fill The gales that drive the rain to Manchester, That drain the sopping cloughs upon the moor. The fog might linger week on week but there The dog, a Labrador, would nevermore Be seen upon the moor. He loved mankind. He loved the moss, he loved the running free, The vast horizons, being unconfined, And he with me as he was born to be Up on the open moor. He loved mankind. We took him on the moss, left him behind, We drowned his body on the sodden moor. We left his body cold upon the moor. And brave was he, but then all dogs are brave. A dog, he wouldn’t know what else to be. His bravery died with him and his grave Knows nothing of his trust and loyalty. And all those years ago his weight was borne Aloft and buried on the open moor. His grave is deep and lonely and forlorn: From breath of life his broken bones secure. And forty-three years has he lain there hushed, High on the moss, preserved by acid rain. And ramblers will come and go, some flushed With effort, some with pride, and some again Will linger long but who knows what lies here Below the tussocks and the quaking earth? Enshrouded in the icy haze, nowhere For living life, nor earth for giving birth. Halcyon days are rare upon the moor When breezes waft the fragrant scent of ling Across the moss. We startle grouse before Us and they clatter off on noisy wing. Move on in time: do you suppose they chose To lie here twitching, blasted from the sky? How Gloriously the Twelfth must baffle those That did no harm and never hurt a fly. Bilberry grows along with cotton grass Upon the plateau’s edge, widespread and dense, And on the gritstone flanks the fleecy mass Aflutter, found on every fold and fence. The moor is silent now and dark and drear, And seldom will we hear the blackbird sing. The curlew rarely pipes from pastures here, Nor skylark thrills with trills upon the wing. The ouzel scarce on lofty gritstone edge, The kestrels nest no longer on their ledge, No whitethroat singing blithely from the sedge Nor dunnock skulking in its laurel hedge. And on the moor he lies, so cold is he, Three feet beneath a weight of sodden ground. No meadows filled with nature’s harmony Nor joyous concord of delightful sound. Held fast upon the lonely moor he might Have said, “Why leave me here? The night descends. Your enemies I would have put to flight But now may God protect me from my friends.” A dog that loved and was betrayed at last By humankind. He thought we’d never part, The status quo immutable, the past Was past, the future present from the start. For he lived in the here and now with me And nor could I, by nature or design, Live on in any other’s memory As his has been immortalised in mine. . grough (pronounced “gruff”): a deep steep-sided gully or channel found in upland peat moor. clough (pronounced “cluff”): is a steep-sided ravine or valley, ling: another name for the plant commonly known as heather hagg: a relatively dry upstanding island of peat. . . Peter Hartley is a retired painting restorer. He was born in Liverpool and lives in Manchester, UK.