Four Poems

Sara Falkstad

Photo Credit: Polly Peterson/Flickr (CC-by)

sawmill, winter

the crisper the air, the louder the sound
of the sawmill
carries over the five miles

timber thuds bouncing
off the network of crystals
the sound is not here but everywhere

loud landings, heavy chains
the cold relentless and dry, the sky
still pierced by stars

the creak of my shoes
only pinching through; pine trees
still stretching

into the blue dawn
shivering for every sound
of dying timber

every year
the shrill song of the sawblade
gets a little louder
I used to not hear it at all, until one early morning
it was there, in my air as I stepped out ready for work
and a taxi driver told me
just how far the sound could travel
the sound: clearer as they cleared
more of the forest in between here and there

and the song will keep going
until we live in a vast and tree-less place
until we can see for five miles

until our bellies are brushed
by the North American contorta plants
replacing a deep
uncontrollable system

until they have nothing left to cut
at the sawmill five miles away
until the song of the saw blade dies out


forest, late winter

the stars are animal eyes
in the between-black of the woods.
the first tawny owl
calls out of the dark tangle.
the beam of my head torch hits
a drop of resin, turning it
into a microscopic diamond
as small as the one in my first engagement ring
from a small shop near the Smithfield Market.
but much more radiant, carrying
the entire wonder of
this biotope.
on the pink-grey pine trunk
it gleams.
I resist the urge to stretch my hand out
to pierce the drop’s perfection.
as resin, it would be insignificant.
a whiff of forest on my finger, soon
blending with my protein to the point
where it is lost.
but as a diamond in the night
it is unique and brilliant, waiting
in a dark forest
until everything is made as bright
by the morning.



I walk the land
under the waxing moon.
new pine silhouettes
clawing at the evening sky.

the trees awaiting removal, prone
on the curling moss.
their nerves cut off, their smell
lingering above the heated ground
suddenly exposed to the day.

tufts of beard lichen
line the scars in the ground
like lifeless animal fur.

this is farmer’s land, owner’s land, the hand
that signed the deed calls the shots.
these woods are not mine
any more than the air I breathe.

the air, the trees, the water seeps
up through the pockets of the Earth
like tears of mercury and lead.

this is land-owner’s land, this is clear-cut land
washing away
from underneath my feet, the black
greasy peat peeking out
from the wounds of forgotten riches.

from the top of the tree stump
I blow off the sawdust
like the dust off a record. my fingers record
each poor and each abundant year.
counting the years
until the tips of my fingers
become wood.


devil’s-bit scabious

half-grown trees march
up the hill, reclaiming
what was cleared.

birch, willow, aspen, all petite
invade the corridors
between the planted spruce with a spring
in their step.

if left alone, they will decide amongst themselves
who gets to stay, who gets to go.
not lord-of-the-flies-like but rolling the dice

like monopoly, half skill, half luck
until a wild
order is restored.

humans and deer have made way
through the couch grass and tormentil
a trampled respite
from the land run
of the species.

tortoiseshell butterflies flutter
in their panicked butterfly way
filling the air like precipitation.

behind our backs
they are sucked back in
to the pin cushions
of the devil’s-bit scabious.

purple velvet, orange silk
a royal highway laid out
through the baby woods
never to become a forest.


Sara Falkstad (b 1982) is a poet, teacher and artist based in the West of Sweden. She has attended writing courses at the Mid Sweden University, Bona folkhögskola and Österlens folkhögskola, as well as the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Summer School at Queen’s University Belfast. Her poetry has been published in various Swedish journals and her book of poetry De enhjärtbladiga (“The Monocots”) was released in 2020. Email: sara.falkstad[at]

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