The hard edges advance daily;
The kerbs, pavements, the flyovers
Storm drains and run-offs
The push and probe of new roads
Endless spans of concrete
Tarmac and stone –
But as the wild is sent
Into seeming retreat
So it finds new avenues of its own
To push and probe
The verges and ditch sides
The verdant hillsides of cuttings
And meadowlands renewed
Upon our fair embankments
These scrublands, these wild worlds
Lost in full view
Owned by no one but us all
Milkwort, Hawkweed
Muskmallow and Knapweed
Hoary Plantain, Oxeye Daisy
Meadow Cranesbill and Great Mullein
Tended by no one
Except the feather dusters of the bees
And the inquisitive nose
Of the dog or vole.

Hedge-Den Recalled

There was a den under that hedge
Between the knurls and knots and twists
Of the haw and blackthorns;
An occasional nip, a reward –
The beads of blood like wax drops
Greedily sucked back
No time for pain to get in the way of war;
Of battles or fights or surreptitious
Half-snatched conversations;
Innocently illicit; longed-for yet alarming
The long grass; rich green with pigment
A bushel of knee stains, unmovable,
And wheat grains, masking the entrance –
The hedge cave MUST STAY secret
From the unknowing eyes of authority
And n’er do wells of the grown up kind.
In the corner, the hill fort (without a hill)
A flattened ring of pitching legs
And flaying arms combining
To harvest everything but crops
The imaginary machine guns
Trimmed the field; close-cropping the infants
And juniors alike – let them play tag;
They’re not welcome here anyway –
The last defence may await: the skin-stun
Of nettle rows, a barbed right of passage
Yet in that moment, that brief moment
With the June sun pulsing down
And pushing out the latter day hedges
I snapped back to –
To today, in Needwood,
And a hedge in distant lands
Brought back by hot grass under the sun
And by the smell and the song of the fields