Dawn Bauling and the West Country

Dorset Evensong

Up to our ankles in large sand
as the late lap of September
presses people homewards
from West Bay’s beach

we can hear the trills
of hidden fossils, flint-sharp
syncopations, secrets burning,
wanting to be plucked and rung

we are learning their long patois
tongued-tied with the newness
of such ancient clicks and clatters
the impatient jangling of eras

as the sun sets

they rattle their song past
our hammers, our useless taps,
so belemnites and ammonites
might have their way

we’ll stop, we’ll wait,
perhaps we’ll catch the wisdoms
waiting in this prehistoric



River Exe mussels with chilli, tomato and parsley

(at Rick Stein’s Bistro, Padstow)

The foreplay is with warm bread and olive oil:
you dripped,
I licked my lips like a cat.
Then the mussels arrive
with just-opened steam
and a light dandruff of parsley.
You drool slightly
before choosing, teasing
the dark, hard lips
to reveal a first soft pearl.
You suck its sweetness
leaving a light aftermath
of garlic.

The Exe has done its work well.

I cross my legs
as you pluck and prick
with your perfect poet’s fingers,
slipping them between
teeth and tongue tip
dipping into the oil slick
finger-bowl –
in out, out in, dripping
frivolity, not necessity.

O lucky bowl.
O lucky tongue.

You will spoon the juice slowly
saying the spice is just right
the flavours lingering:
“Just hot enough.”
If only he knew.

We refuse dessert.


Along with Ronnie Goodyer Dawn Bauling is co-director of Devon-based Indigo Dreams Publishing, co-winner of The Ted Slade Award for Poetry on 2015 and co-owner of a senior collie called Soxx. She is sole editor of The Dawntreader and Sarasvati magazines.
Born a Librarian Dawn has had two collections published and has featured widely in poetry magazines and anthologies. Because of work commitments she rarely surfaces for air other than to walk in the Devon forest or drive a tractor.

6 thoughts on “Dawn Bauling and the West Country”

  1. Yes I’m off to Rick Stein in Padstow very soon and will think of this great poem and thrill to mussels in my mind as alas my body no longer likes them this will do very well instead …

    xxx C

  2. Love the idea of fossils singing. I enjoyed mightily spending this West Coast day (and ahem – supper) with the speaker and her friend and these two poems 🙂

  3. So pleased to see these poems from a poet I admire tremendously who so generously gives her time and energy to encouraging new poets and supporting everyone who comes under her radar. I am so glad she has surfaced for air on The Poetry Shed. Two wonderful poems – Dorset Evensong takes me right there, amongst those fossils – so full of imagery and sound it touches the senses – “flint-sharp syncopations, /secrets burning, /wanting to be plucked and rung” – “they rattle their song past our hammers” – love it. And how sensuous can you make mussels – well very it seems. “I cross my legs/as you pluck and prick/with your perfect poet’s fingers,/slipping them between/teeth and tongue tip/dipping into the oil slick/finger-bowl” – I was in this poem with the poet all the way. Thanks for these poems – a real treat.

    1. Thank you Valerie for all your encouragements. I have a feeling there’s been an increase in mussel sales at the bistro since I wrote this poem. Even after 3 years it’s still on the menu! Dx

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