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

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