Almost a year on
and I know this place no better
than I should. No better than I can.
Three weeks of rain
and the stream is not itself.
It has taken the path.
The colours of the trees have changed again,
or been abandoned to the ground.
Birds are silent. Or absent.
These are the mushroom days,
days full of coughs and crows
up in the bare, pollarded trees.
Somebody ahead of me on the path—
like the idea of summer just past.
Moving on, happening elsewhere.
Just like I have seen on the news.
Utterly incredible. Catastrophic.
As part of The People’s Forest season, poet Will Burns has created a collection of new poems inspired by Epping Forest—London’s urban woodland.
Hoping to draw on a lifelong interest in the natural world, and the contested ground around London and the home counties, Burns has walked from Epping Forest to Wendover Woods to shape his poems for The People’s Forest.
He has written a poem per season, which have been released on high profile literary platforms throughout the year:
The Word for Woods, published by Caught by the River visits the forest at the end of a long dark winter. Spring in This Place celebrates new life in the forest, and can be read on Elsewhere Journal. His third poem Before Rainfall, for Elementum Online, takes a look back at the intense heat of summer.
We are delighted to share the last poem of the series—Just Another Winter Day—which reflects on the past year, at the start of a new winter.
Will Burns was born in Enfield, in the shadow of Epping Forest, and now lives in Buckinghamshire. He is one of the poets in residence for Caught by the River and is published by Faber and Rough Trade Books. His full-length debut Country Music will be published by Offord Road books in 2020. Will also has an album Chalk Hill Blue out with composer Hannah Peel.
The People's Forest season is our year-long arts programme exploring our relationship with Epping Forest, interrogating the deep bond we have with forests and woodland, and how this relationship is culturally determined. Curated by Luke Turner and Kirsteen McNish.
There’s still time to catch Epping Forest artist-in-residence Ellie Wilson’s sound installation Echoes, on at The View until 3 January 2020.
You can watch Will Burns reading his third poem Before Rainfall in Epping Forest below.