The High Window Resident Artist: Penny Sharman

The High Window‘s resident artist for 2020 has been Penny Sharman and I would like to express my deepest thanks to Penny, not only for the quality of the artwork and poems which she has supplied, but also for her unfailing enthusiasm and professionalism and hyper-efficiency.


Penny was born in Oxford and brought up in Burford in the Cotswolds. She ventured north in the late 1960’s and has remained in love with the Pennines where she lives. As a poet, artist, photographer and complimentary therapist she seeks new ways of being creative. She is inspired by art and natural landscapes and has a surreal approach to her work. She has an MA in Creative writing from Edge Hill University and has been published in many magazines and anthologies. Her pamphlet Fair Ground (Yaffle Press) and her collection Swim With Me In Deep Water (Cerasus) are available from her website:



The world has changed so much since I last presented the autumn issue and life will
probably never quite go back to whatever we had before the pandemic. I have spent
a lot of time alone, as I expect many of you have and contemplated on meanings for
what comes next. In this piece I have focused on the Cosmos and used some of my
own art work to inspire my own words. I wish you all best of wishes and hope we
all stay safe.





She’s more than her
cuddly white fur.
She’s ice maiden
on all fours,
Snow Goddess
standing upright.
She’s an eater of blubber,
slayer of small
and large things.
She’s a totem
with eyes that
search for caves.
She’s Nanuk–God’s bane,
and she’s our warning.

She wanders forever in her
wilderness and whiteouts.
She’s losing her flesh
to a sinking world.
She’s emptying bins
on the high street.
She’s knocking at
your door and mine.

She’s a screw that turns
a world’s future.
She’s a movie of
hammer and nails.
She’s a skeleton
and fortune-teller
that carries your coffin.





Everyone in the house was asleep
and didn’t see that spectre over the fields,
the apricot globe, the stage lights breaking mist,
the burning arrows.

Lichen creeps, holds its ground on damp
rock and empty limbs, tastes like salt on
the tongue, a single breath in a furnace.

Crushed crocus stamens soaked in oil
paint your face back again.
I keep you safe like a warm brass rubbing
stashed in the corner of my pocket.





This rock is not a rock at all.

It’s a fusion of worlds, a mass of jewels, small enough
for any human hand, and yet it feels like a whole planet
that’s fallen from distant skies.

The wood pigeon coos on the terraced roof, a reminder
that I’m still in the garden room with hot sun prickling
my flesh, where birdsong is quietly intermittent before
the next feeding frenzy.

This rock has quartz pyramids that blaze in sunlight.
It`s covered in green slime, a primordial stone stew,
a Machu Pichu outpost aligned to extra-terrestrial gods.

This rock is a fool’s world in the deep amber flecks,
each sparkle a lost dream of silver and gold.




Totleigh Barton

The fluff on a fledgling wren dances
a rumba on the silver ladder under larches.
Tree creepers skit on invisible skates,
sun dries out thatch and ripens apples.
Pheasants practice their guttural chords
over the artichoke`s purple quills.

Old gloves lay motionless beside rows
of red onions and fading deck chairs.
They wait for a stranger’s hand.
Runner beans stretch and grab the iron legs
of a worn out chair, launch pad to the sky.

Under tall willows a galleon`s sail waves to clouds,
and a green wheelbarrow holds a sea of raindrops.
Over the fields, behind barbed wire and tall grasses
rabbits listen to talk in the garden and wonder.

At the standing stone black holes on the water
hide another universe. Images become words,
sharp as corn stubble from a harvester`s rampage.
The constant drone of an engine shocks the dormice
and grasshoppers out of their tiny minds.





When I drive over moor tops
I feel alive and grounded
sunk into ancient peat. Bogs
reach for sky as clouds kiss
the earth and dress the scrub.
Violet heather turns to amber,
scorched and crisp, time after
time. These moor tops mew
and howl around bowery cairns,
play haunting songs through
the cotton grasses and blow us
all fast forward. Bulging clouds
drop sighs into pools as they
crash to the land. A soggy sadness moves a deceit
of lapwings sheltering
from storm and man.

High up in lonely town
banks melt into ditches
as my heart melts softly
into yours. Leaves burnt
brown with crumpled
undersides are swept belly
up to nothing. Let us hide
under blankets until
the light returns.

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