I hurried on some errand along the dale in a twilight,
wet moss and stone, wet frigid air,

the ribbon of my road rolled out to a haze,
my horizon unclear, a fog

poured down from over the fells, a ghost
of grey, edged with night,

and the black trees, like the thinnest of dreams,
all wintered and bare.

Then I saw them in my torchlight, resolving through the gloom,
earthed and somehow ancient,

the sheep like a circle of standing stones,
their green eyes gleaming like flares,

they made no sound, but their heads, as they grazed,
swung low, slow and hypnotic;

I paused, and we were then man and sheep
together on our small circle of earth.

And when driven back to the City, impatient,
in lock step herded, time poor and brass-faced,
I recall the sheep and their placid insistence,
how they grubbed at damp grass on their small patch of turf,
and how when the moon suddenly broke through the murk,
it turned everything it touched into silver.

David Canning moved from Essex to the Forest of Bowland in 2021, and this landscape has become a new inspiration for his writing. He has published two poetry collections: An Essex Parish (2015) and The Celestial Spheres (2020), and in 2021, Jim-Jam-Julie, an illustrated children’s story in verse. David is the BBC Essex Poet in residence, and he performs regularly on and sets the monthly theme for their BBC Upload show. His poetry has been longlisted in the National Poetry Competition, twice shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, won a first prize from the Sentinel Quarterly Literary Review, and has been commended in the Poetry Society’s annual Stanza Competition. He has been published in several anthologies, including Places of Poetry, magazines (most recently in Wet Grain and UKClimbing.com), and one of his poems featured in a garden design in Channel 5’s The Great Gardening Challenge.