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Chanctonbury Ring

I wonder, as I lie peaceful on the rabbit-cropped turf,
looking at the wreckage of implanted trees
that never should have been there,
how anyone could think that a hill was haunted,
inhabited by demons or that it hated anyone.

There are stories of the devil stealing souls here,
of Caesar and his army appearing,
treasure seekers, lost children, a woman in white.
Perhaps this is the place for understanding loss,
the part it plays in our history of gains.

Reports of ghosts and broken nights come from men –
men who are tough, men who know better
or didn’t know before then exactly what they were,
how vulnerable in nature, how afraid
of screaming women in the empty dark air.

Away from the city, away from cars and phone signals,
away from the artificial world, something else
finds a voice. I know they’re not witches, they’re women
in pain, ignored until their horror and grief
finds a roofless home on an ancient hill.

Zoe Mitchell is a widely-published poet whose work has been featured in a number of magazines including The Rialto, The London Magazine and The Moth. She graduated from the University of Chichester with an MA in Creative Writing and was awarded a Distinction and the Kate Betts Memorial Prize. She is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, examining witches in women’s poetry. In 2018, she was joint winner of the Indigo-First Collection Competition and her first collection, Hag, is published by Indigo Dreams Publishing. 


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