HCE received a lot of high-quality submissions for The Green Issue – sadly, too many to fit inside the magazine! So we offered some writers and artists who’d sent in work the chance to be published here on the website. Keep an eye on our social media for more great work like this, now that The Green Issue print magazine has been released! (For more information or to purchase your copy, visit our shop.)


Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe


The tree is talking to me.

I press my fingers deep into the grooved bark,
stroking away at the top layers of skin
and wood, leaving a layer of powder
wherever we touch.

Rain splashes the backs of my legs. The hem
of my skirt, soaked brown with mud, clings to flesh.

I open my eyes,
and open them again.

I counted every step you took as you walked away. I timed every pause
between your footfalls, listening for the suck and squelch of the mud
as you lifted each boot up –
and the suck and squelch of the mud as you let your boot back down.

The rain is making the prints that you left soft,
coaxing them to lose their shape, lose the edges you cut.
The holes are filling with water.

I curl a fist and plunge it deep into one, letting my hand sink into your shape.
I splay out my fingers,
raking up troughs of mud,
furrowing into the only trace of you that is left.

I am sitting here, one hand in your footprint, one hand on the tree –
and the tree is talking to me.
Translating the words you left hidden, cut into the earth.


Zoë is a Poet and Mum from Dukinfield. She has an MA in Poetry from Bath Spa University. Her first pamphlet ‘Love is the way bark grows’ came out with Half Moon Books in June 2019. Her work has appeared in Anthologies and Journals including For the Silent, Atrium, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Picaroon, Algebra of Owls, Bonnie’s Crew and Marble. Zoë is on Twitter as @ZSHowarthLowe and you can find out more about her work on the website.