Isabel Bermúdez Ospina

The Panners

Under blue skies
yellow dust in the sandy stream.
What it is for the men
to crouch all day long,

and pan, pan, pan
searching for

the one thing that will
exorcise the past,

that lucky strike
among false friends
who wink and glitter
in the beery sun,

full of the shine
that dulls

once out of the water’s lick,
shrinks to nothing

like a day’s pay.
They were
the panners,

who pitched up
in my childhood.

Squatters, shadows,
seekers, they showed
the child I was –

visitor to those pastures
lit with weeds

and blue, blue butterflies –
their darkness,

their skills.


The Walnut Tree

Last night
I buried the little walnut tree

Covered it with asphalt
by the side of a country track,
one hundred yards

from the bulging, bilious trunk
of an eight-hundred-year-old oak.
I put things in with it:

a gold ring, keys…
A grave, a little spot

in the yellow grass of memory,
to which I would

never, yet always
come back.


The Colombian Edition of The London Magazine is out now and available from our online shop. Published in anticipation of next month’s Hay Festival in Cartagena de Indias, this issue will be followed by a Spanish language version, out in January 2022, in Colombia and the UK.
Cover image: Ritual (Pescadores), oil on canvas, 100x150cm (Pedro Ruiz, 2010)


Isabel Bermúdez Ospina was born in Colombia and grew up in England. She lives in Orpington, Kent. Her latest collection is Serenade, poems of Spain and the New World (Paekakariki Press, Walthamstow, 2020), with illustrations by her husband, Simon Turvey. She is widely published in magazines, performs her poetry at live events and won the Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition with Madonna Moon in 2018. Other collections are Sanctuary (Rockingham Press, Ware, 2016) Small Disturbances (Rockingham 2018) and Extranjeros (Flarestack Poets, 2015). Most recently she was hosted by the Instituto Cervantes, Manchester and the Colombian Embassy in conversation with Welsh poet and translator Richard Gwyn.

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