Beacons Project 2021 - The Allotment by Jak Merriman

Jak Merriman took part in the Beacons Project at Hay Festival Winter Weekend 2021. The Beacons Project aims to encourage creativity and forge a sense of creative identity amongst young people in Wales. It offers a unique opportunity for twenty Welsh students aged 16-18 to meet and work with exceptional writers, broadcasters and journalists in a highly creative and stimulating environment during Hay Festival.

The Allotment

I own an allotment, and sheep grow there. They open

sometimes, a slope of shadow spilling through them. Then

there are acres of muddied skin, piling off into the sun,

all of sound rippling and crushing and the fields disappearing,

leaving only a scant suggestion in the leafless trees.Then the horses, the criminals, the swines; did I

mention them? They are dirty and round and pink, in some lights.

But not this one: in this light, they are frozen-faced blue,

slick with starlight, and specked with dignity and finiteness.

Here is the world, I think, my animals,

the slow plants growing alongside. It’s a farm, I can hear.

And the sprouts of dry hair are on cheeks, and they are

yours, after confirmation—after I bring you to my hand and watch

light coalesce and depart. I’m watching you engulfed in your mind,

a field blistered with sprouting crop. A thought, and I almost

catch it, but it ashes inside my head. You need to live, because

I want you. Over here, where my hands are,

there is more land, dry land, dry like your skin

when I leave it too long. I hear the muffled stop of an animal

slumping, a slice of green leaving with it. You remain.

No, I don’t want you when you’re clean, nor

the allotment, nor the farm. I want rust and dirt and layers of

moss thrown over the world. Out of the window, past you,

a sky glowing with dots of hurried white, huddled

into groups like us, a world spinning and spinning

until it does not.I shift, leaving your image in my mind like the desperate

bulb, and I touch my bemired fingers to the

window, watching this new world

which arrived so quickly and without sound, watching

things appearing and disappearing, the matter of thought

careening between strips of numb flesh:the tractor’s wheels, the horses’ hooves;

for a split second, up close, me—the elect and the dying.

Thanks to Welsh Government for funding the Beacons Project and to Bad Wolf and Screen Alliance Wales for their partnership in creating Jack Thorne's workshop. And finally, thanks to Booths Bookshop for allowing us to film Owen Sheers on location.