The descent from the church.
Sandstone slabs, worn away in whorls
Always sported a 5 o’clock shadow
Of moss, like it’s cool, right
Old gravestones, laid flat
Names scuffed off,
From worker’s clogs and flint hard seggs;
And on the hill, the cobbles –
Most places have grubbed them up
Or covered them over, endless coats
Gravel, tarmac, slabs – not here.
And all it took, a greasy summer shower,
Motor oil’s incessant dirty drips,
Sump leakage from Austin 7s or the fleet
Of Mr Williams’ Peugeot 505s –
Barking and hacking
Gauloises smoking devotees, spitting,
And you’d slide, arse over tit
Down the bank to the brook.
There, the straight route back
Left up the horse-track,
By the old mill pool, even then,
Well past its good days.
You knew you were there,
When the gable of the Haunted Manor
Poked above the brambles.
Pogles’ Wood: a fearful scrub
Of skin rubbing, flesh scoring madness,
Your deepest dreads
Lived out there.
Past the graffiti (‘Mod Wankers!’)
Pushing through bright shards of angelica
Stinking garlic, brush-laurel
You’d soon be lost…
Enfolded, shrouded, swallowed whole –
Natural senses, compass, gone.
As the magnetic chaos, the veil of darkness
Pulled you deeper.
Flailing, whirling arms, gaunt-mouthed
Panicked running; the only hope –
Minding the mire, the bog,
Until hope was restored
A distant bugle call…
It’s gone now, the wood.
The scrub and fen no match
For bawling chainsaw and wheezing diggers.
Drive there though
Up the Old Mill Road
And I still hear it, that reveille
Son! Get home! Tea’s up.