Brambles cut with snow
are the earth’s bronze crown
of thorns in the sun
This sun – glancing the snow
I walk under – and my ears
tilt to the birdsong now
This spring beginning with snow
A fox-path diverts from mine
to the deeper humanless parts
And cars through the sleet
as my ears grow colder
the houses are there, dusted
With drybrush grey – white crusts
plucked from a model of
the apocalypse – each is empty
Others walk by to arrive somewhere
as I stand and look
at the fallen tree, sliced with a gap
The precise size of the path
snow-dust sits on the fragments.
A half frozen lake waits
for me, and duck ripples
there is no escape, but this
Is an escape, the frozen sheet
the tree’s twisting bark
the wood-pigeon’s cold thrum
May this be preserved
this tas of remnants
this preciseness of life
Which clings to us like a scar
‘Do not go in the water’
it would be piercing quiet
Then dull, but I do not need telling
twice – to not miss
by brash action – a moment.
Long moments walk.
Behind the patient moon,
a meteor – as I walk home
watch my head coalesce
into the white materia – holy.
The rain sets a gradient on greens
Old lithograph fade, with yellows
Flickering, charring them, peeling
As if cloud, slate dark depressed
Is absent mindedly flicking through filters.
But there is a joy to this substance
A chunky soup for the steaming
For the hungry, who evaporate within
Its vacuum of feeling.
Only at twilight, such a light.
After, the streetlamps pale as soggy
Worm corpses, settle on the streets.
I miss the phosphor orange glow
Of the days when I was younger.
Today, I miss it. Maybe not tomorrow.
Pylons grew out of the flesh of the land
Iron bones of blood-rust thrust through
scaffolds to hold up the cloudsky – how
The rocks were insufficient now
Heaven has grown heavier and heavier,
only metal and electrics can halt it
since it dropped off hurtling downward
toward the cold earth’s blank plates.
Carefully she offers control to the currents
As her eye glides up over furrows
Never overcorrecting, she appears
When she means to, clears the barren treetops
And fastens some fur between her beak and the ground.
Her predator’s presence in the city shows
She retains the perfection of the ages,
And rats, nested in stubborn woodland patches
Sing of her soundings to their children, of days
Of sudden pain when scraps and salvage end.
I was deprived of her, by haste.
Eggs, whose skin could crackle like woodfire
Instead sank in to themselves, and shrank
Til embryo sap stained the tree-forks.
Her keening night-cry declared the time.
And silence slowly took the skies while I was born
As the hill-wind might forget a part of itself.
No longer the slip and slither of air around wing
Only the crows desperate gasping and magpie chitter
I did not know that anything was missing.
Then, one day as we walked amongst the drizzle
Along a long drystone wall, I followed a hand
Which gestured up. How can it be,
That a few dark specks and their swoopings, complete the sky?
I felt this, and mum smiled to see me smile.
[The red kite is a bird of prey which was almost wiped out by the use of the pesticide DDT, and saved by some thoughtful people. Now it can be seen all over West Yorkshire again]
Left cold house and broke hastily through
We pass for a day over poster perfect fields
And sun charges with us, freeing the air.
My friend snatches a deer from the woods grasp
And chatters lively for an hour about its litheness.
It fell to us to unlock this path’s puzzle
To spell hieroglyphs upon the land’s patterns
To leave nothing else but time behind us.
Like the moon frosting the evening brushes the darkness
A Castle falls out of the forest
Meets us as we crunch around a corner:
It carves its ancient signature into us.
This must have let us forget, as we left there in darkness
And stumbled up the stone-ridden hills, slowly
Eerie at the earth crop’s murmering whispers.
A little light that fed the surging darkness.
Then, chancing the elder hunting’s track,
We saw histories of the boar’s foraging
Burned stars into memory as we shivered
Listening to Orion’s shadow, under the frosted roads.
Unnanounced in the cities spring up
Unattended eddies in the flow
Hiding quiet and held in check
By walkers whose solitary paths
Attain the force of stone.
And from time to time, erupt
In a long awaited silence
In some valley, some alley in the back
Where aerial trees cling drinking
The living city rain, and biding
A silence which, like a sigh
after a long day’s work and walk
after the bags are down, tea’s brewing
and you raise your hand to your eyes and rub
and the air empties itself of talk
So calm descends in the sun’s heat
And the cars, though everywhere
Are no longer here, just for a moment.
And you breathe freely, unassailed
By unnoticed constant tack and tear;
The cold stress of a city.
Did Wordsworth see the bugs?
Did Coleridge sweat, and stand resting
hands on hips, wheezing, attempting
to rest and take the landscape in?
Did he slip with muddy boots, in velvet suit
and try to be poetic, nursing the hot feet
attendant to a walk.
Did Wordsworth smell the daffodils,
as they blinded him in the sun, and
the bugs, again, swarmed round his pad
til he was happy with the notes?
Did he pass the stranger’s greetings
or return them to their owners
gazing down at his feet, hands at his pack.
Did sunburn plague them?
The sweat doesn’t quite appear in print
the ink that hides the work.
And the poet does his best to hide it too,
Wandering lonely as a cloud,
in a cloud, and pad dispersing
Into sodden clods of paper
sinking to the fern.