The Long Man

Long ManBandy-legged he strides
Through wind-weathered pastures
Tousled haired grasses,
The long fringe of Winter
Blow across his gaze
Sweeping, his clod footed feet
Brush them back
With irritated steps.
Boldy, he bog-hops
Over transient streams
Seasonally available
Like plump strawberries
Or barb beset pineapples;
There is a spring in the long man’s steps –
But Spring is not upon us, not yet
Just this low, long sun of Winter behind him
And those shadows – spreading, stretching
Elongating the everyday.

Brock

BrockDigger, builder,
Badger, Brock,
The grey man of the fields
Scuttling gait, shoulders rolling
A shepherd lolloping after sheep;
Pausing, snout up, paw cocked
Like the keeper’s gun,
Trunnion-hinged,
Ready to snap-shut
And kill;
Brock waits
Maps the land through scent
Worms, or grubs, or nesting chicks;
In the far field, home
Root-roofed, earth walled; the sett
A safe haven – until the men come
With their shovels and picks
Holler and thrum
Dogs and gas –
Brock runs
Low now, head down, urgent
Through the long grass
Into the ditch
Beneath the hedge
Under the wheels.
Brock lies
Gutter-ways
As if asleep
Dreaming…
Digger, builder,
Badger, Brock.

 

Stoneyford Bridge

The long grass in Summer
Bends to the sigh of the wind
Only so far for a polite kiss
Daintily hiding the traces
Of seasons’ past.
Heads of feral wheat, far from home
Are bold now, fine-whiskered
Heads up like prairie dogs
Alert to danger;
Yet through it winds a path
Down to Stoneyford bridge
Just the trace of wandered boots
Like wisps of gasping breath
Captured on a frosty morning
Or the ripple marks as the tide flows.
Stoneyford bridge;
Two planks wide, nothing more;
Knurled knots standing proud
Lateral lines of yearly growth
Polished to a gloss
By Hunter Boots and walking shoes
Toweling trousers of kneeling kids
Yelping with delight
At the white-water chaos
Of Pooh-sticks below.
And beyond, the path whispers up
A rounded hill, encircled with barbs
Round like an iron age fort
Or the tree-shod bloodied slopes
Of some desperate bayonet stand;
But no fighting here:
Just the contours and trees
The echo of children playing
The lowing of a far-off cow
And the sigh of the path back
To Stoneyford bridge

The Lone Oak

I am here
I am a remnant
Just one
One, of a once great forest
One, of once upon a time

They say, ‘There is the oak
Church doors; cruck frames; the wood of war
I am formidable
They say, ‘There is the oak
Proud; strong; sentinel
The watcher, keeping guard

I am alone
I am a remnant
Just one
Today, a whisper of the past
Today, the inconvenience of man

Like my kith
One day soon I will fall
Felled to ease
The pass of the furrow
Straight lines in mother earth

Like my kin
I accept my fate
Until then
I am formidable
The watcher, keeping guard