Somewhere there is a beech tree
carved with the names of men from Longhope
who went to war.

Somewhere there is a lion
carved with the names of men from Longhope
who went to war and didn’t come back.

It’s on Hopes Hill—I know that one.
I’ve seen the stone plinth often enough
from the top deck of the 24

but the tree I’ve never found.
Perhaps it’s one of those folk tales,
the legend of how they all went up May Hill
one last time, signed their names
in the boc of the land
and raised a toast to the setting sun
I lived here and belonged.

Or perhaps a storm felled the tree,
ripped its roots from earth and splintered on impact,
the carved bark now rotting down to mulch again.

Or perhaps the woods know how to keep their secrets,
and the regiment closed ranks around another name
known only to bark that was lost
from the inscription, that slipped through splits in memory,
a name that fell like a leaf
and like a leaf landed, and was held,
regenerating deep in the wood.


Stewart Carswell grew up in the Forest of Dean and currently lives in Cambridgeshire, where he co-hosts the Fen Speak open mic night. His poems have recently been published in Under the Radar, Finished Creatures, Ink Sweat & Tears, and The Storms Journal. His debut collection is “Earthworks” (Indigo Dreams, 2021). Find out more at