About sarahsouthwest

I'm now in my early 50s. I started writing again as a way of exploring the world, and feel that over the last 2 years I have really grown as a writer. By day I work with children and young people with mental health difficulties. I juggle my own two children, my work, my writing practice, generally managing to keep all the balls up in the air.

Hedge replies

Here you come, with your blade
and your hook, your leather gloves
and your big boots. You forget
that I hold the old wisdom
of tangled branch and root,
of bird nest and birdsong,
of leaf and berry.

You seek
to form me, mould me,
but my branches will always
reach for the sky. You’ll be back
next winter, and the next,
your swift flickering movements,
your grunts, your sweat,
taming me, not taming me,

my branches pruned and smoothed,
my roots always knotted
clutching the earth
and groping for the light.

Amaya gives us a two part prompt at dVerse. My first poem was about laying a hedge – the most satisfying of winter jobs. This is the response of the hedge.


Hawthorn, hazel, blackthorn, spindle –
I’ve wrestled with you all day –
those thorns, long as a baby’s finger
finding my skin through shirt
and sweater, my blade splitting
your slim trunk, brute force bending you
from the vertical –
light questing, light driven –
to the horizontal.

I’m forming you into something
woven and useful, I’m following
a long tradition here, making
a living barrier against
all those hungry hunting things
that prowl in the wild,
keeping in the soft-skinned,
warm-wooled, milk-breathed
tame things. I divide
safety from danger,
home from strange.

You divide danger from safety,
strange from home,
with your stubborn strength,
your unwilded tangles,
this geometry we form together,
me following your lead,
you bowing to my will –

I’m cold and scratched and muddied,
and I’m satisfied. A good day’s work.
I’ve wrestled with you all day, my hedge,
my hawthorn, blackthorn, spindle, hazel,
winter warp and weft of wood. We’re done.

The dVerseprompt tonight is to use apostrophe – direct address, not punctuation.


There’s a simplicity in a cloudless sky –
remarkable for nothing. You remark on it
and then move on. It’s blue.

A cloudy sky is far more interesting,
there’s form and movement,
there’s emotion there, there’s meaning,

look, we say, look up, that smooth shape there,
those dragon wings, that wolf,
that soft white pillow for a sleepy child.

Morning sets fire to clouds,
evening paints them lurid red and gold,
the sun sinking into them

rising again next day, radiant
from a slutty bed, all crumpled sheets
and tasteless coverings.

I drown in clouds, sometimes.

Laura is prompting at dVerse tonight, looking at all those words that end in “less” – a good start to Advent, a time of restraint.

Blithe spirit

Sometimes I think the orchard
holds a spirit. Her bright presence
moving between the trees:
in spring, she brings the scent
of apple blossom, almost there,
and then in autumn she quickens
each fruit, makes it sweeter.
I’m fanciful. That’s my defence.

De (Whimsygizmo) is tending the bar tonight. It’s quadrille night at the dVerse poets’ pub, and we are using the word “spirit”.

Couch grass – poem for dVerse

Our pale roots
tangling through
the dark soil

knotting and knarling
like a child’s
wild hair

we metastasise
our thick roots

plump, white,
in every crack

in every cranny
we push our
fat fingers


food water warmth
we seek, we seek,

pluck us
we break
we grow again

mocking mocking

our pale roots
our green shoots

clumping spreading

we will starve
the garden
with our pale greed

Kim is hosting at dVerse tonight. She asks us to look at contrasting, yet companion poems by Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. You might say I’ve followed Hughes – I used to live just over the hill from Heptonstall, and now I’m just up the road from Dartmoor – but I’ve chosen to echo Plath’s poem. You can connect to the original through Kim’s dVerse post, and find lots of other poets there.

Couch grass is a vile and evil thing that mocks the gardener pitilessly with it’s sickening root system. If you leave even a millimetre in the soil it will regrow, and it’s incredibly friable. I hate the stuff. If you’ve ever tried to garden in England, you’ll know it.

Thank you biscuits

It’s a miserable day. The drive down to the city is messy and difficult – too much rain, too much spray from the road, poor visibility. All the autumn colours are washed out, greyed by the rain.

We take biscuits, shortbread in a fancy tin. I don’t know why we take them today – maybe we’re feeling particularly grateful to the nursing staff who pad gently round the clinic, who are always smiling, who offer comfort and reassurance. They are warmth on this bleak November day.

a red leaf

gold, disregarded

smoke in the air

Frank is taking care of the dVerse bar tonight. Thanksgiving is coming up and we are asked to consider gratitude. 

This poem

this poem

this pool
circles spilling

she’s scratching words
in joy
in fear
in desperation

paper thin
paper skin

the sky



This is for Frank’s prompt at dVerse, where we are encouraged to imitate a poet we admire. I’ve written a lot of forms in my time. I’m really exploring haiku at the moment, and I’ve a couple of other poets on the go, but this poem is in imitation of a dVerse regular. The dVerse poets are the ones I read most often, actually. I’m really enjoying November with our very own Whimsygizmo. She’s great at playing with words and breaking things up a bit. I’m not good at letting go of grammar, and this is my attempt at being more playful with the words themselves.

water and words

The water rises
and all the fish are birds
their feathers streaming

I am a cloud
pinned to a paper sky
each nail a twig
each twig a kiss
each kiss a moonbeam

you are a fork
spearing the mountains
that swirl and dance

the water rises
and each tree is a song

green words
in a blue bowl

I am a poem
written in milk

a song sung
in a great rhythmic haze
notes scattered like light

notes shattered like light

blue words
in a green bowl.

Linda is hosting at dVerse tonight and she asks us to let our inhibitions go and enter a world of surrealism.


Crick-crack –
old one-tooth gnaws a nut

winter hungers outside
wind whispers at the keyhole
and the snow spreads her cloak
on the roof of the house

but we are safe and warm
in our gingerbread cottage

and we have tales to tell.

De is hosting at dVerse tonight. It’s quadrille night again – 44 words, and tonight’s key word is “crack”. It’s November, time to cosy by the fire and listen to stories. There are dark things outside.