A trace of a temple, an outline
of a religion emerging
through the scraped-back layers
of brushed earth. A square courtyard
stone-walled and fountain-fed.
An alcove for a nymph.
In the latest trench, dark soil
has reached glinting metal buried
at the edge of the Forest: a silver torc,
a thousand years untouched,
an almost-loop like a thumb and a finger
of a god holding on around your wrist.
Here it is, the twisting silver
Knots and branches
Stewart Carswell’s intriguing poetry takes the reader on a mysterious journey through a world influenced by the forests and trees of our natural landscape. The poems’ concise descriptions of nature are balanced by an acute awareness of our emotional fragility. A darkly satisfying debut.
Although set for the most part in the enclosed landscapes of his native Forest of Dean, Stewart Carswell’s precise and surprising poems travel at the speed of light to explore the limits of love, loss, and loyalty.
– Deborah Harvey
Read a review of Knots and Branches on Sabotage Reviews.
Light crosses light years to reach us and the stars
appear small and dim from here. As time expands,
the names of school friends recede when the divide
widens from the years we remember them over.
So when I look back I think of my friends
as constellations and see patterns in those distant lights,
connecting together the faint memories of youth
to create a set of stories to navigate by.
My gift for you was an acorn.
I told you to plant it
in your garden so you could always be
within reach of a forest.
So you planted it. And with time and rain,
a forest grew around your house.
Fawns graze at your door,
ferns are window frames,
and you are a neighbour
to oak. Observe the seasons
and the lessons they carry.
Collect twigs and moss
and learn to build a nest:
make it hard against the wind
but soft against the skin.
Home should be a place to return to.