Skin of the Earth by Lucy Furlong

Humans don’t walk here. I see

drivers stare at me through

windshields and wound down

windows as they pass by. One

day a woman and a girl stop to

look at me as I kneel to take a

photo of red clover. They double

take as I double take. A horse

and trap careers across the dual

carriageway at the Jubilee Way

junction – a time warp – a bright

sunny day. I am teetering at the

end of one part of the sward,

waiting to cross – a bride and

groom, resplendently fancy,

billowing clouds of gypsy white

wedding. I see them holding on

to each other, laughing as the

driver races away, and I miss the

shot. But people do inhabit the

sward – if not for long. There is a

tiny path worn across the grass

where lads cross over to play

football. At the end of May there

was a human-sized patch in the

waist-deep grass, where

someone had slept by the lime

tree. Amongst the wildflowers

there is rubbish, probably

thrown from car windows *

achillea * birds foot trefoil * ragwort *

red clover * plastic bottle * buttercup *

speedwell * cigarette packet

 * mallow * cigarette butt * dandelion *

 daisy * sweet wrapper *plastic

bottle * plantain * hawkweed *

ragwort * ragwort * plastic bottle *

buttercup * nitrous oxide bottle *

teasel * plastic bottle * bristly ox

tongue * hub cap * crisp packet * plastic *


“a poem from my latest chap book from Sampson Low, Sward, plus a picture of me actually walking on ‘Sward’ from last May, when I had just begun the project.” LUCY FURLONG


Lucy Furlong’s work has been featured in The Guardian and on BBC Radio 4’s Women Who Walk programme. It is also taught as part of the OU Creative Writing MA. Her latest chapbook Sward was recently published by Sampson Low. A second edition of ~clew~ from Hesterglock Press is forthcoming. @lucyfurleapz 

Jude Cowan Montague is an artist and broadcaster. She produces 'The News Agents' for Resonance FM, a weekly show experimenting with international story and the arts. She worked at Reuters Television News for many years as an archivist and this has informed her poetry and some of her art. She's an award winning printmaker and a composer. Her graphic memoir 'Love on the Isle of Dogs' is available from Central Books.