Cobbles

Sloshing through the chalk stream
Barefooted; clear waters run shallow
Flint barbs glint; these sward-sharp cobbles
Washed clean of sand; crows circle above
The white cups of crowfoot below.

Where Lower Byrom meets Great John,
Flaked tarmac, shredded by spinning rubber,
Lanc rain and the soles of endless souls,
Reveal sparking setts, peaking once more
At the grey northern sun.

Up on the Needwood plateau,
Long roads, straight as a rule-edge
Dip and climb through ancient forest shards
The Enclosure-roads are tired now
Old granite pavers smile out, remembering

On the posh estate, behind pig-iron gates
Fantails, peacocking like on Continental plazas
Spring forth; not for us, this fancy-dandy –
Spouting like a soda stream –
Just a snicket, toed-in and true.

On the Square though, are the real thing
Fished from streams; dug from fields
Where once the glaciers flowed –
Glassy in the rain, glossy in the dry;
Twisting ankles on their rounded backs.

Bow wave

I
First the men came.
Marking out, small stakes, painted tops, nestled in the hedgerows
Barely noticed, walked-past, dogs sniffed and peed-on
Then they posted the signs up
Simple things, black on white, line drawings
Quarrying soon, consultation, hot air

II
Then the diggers came.
Scraped the grass off, ripped away the top soil
Murdered the fields, raped the trees
Millennia old, gone, in a piping whistle
Trill, unheard, silent screams
Heard by millions, but not us

III
Then the bulldozers came
Harsh; spewing; yellow; alarming
Their curved shields, pushed by ten thousand horses
A curving arc of land, my land, rising, gone
In a bow wave of sand, and soil, and grit
Dust, fumes, pain, hurt

IV
Deeper they pushed.
At first three feet, then six
The water rose, gritty, dirty, seeping
Then three fathoms, then six
For what?
For gravel, for roads, for the building blocks of progress

V
But to no avail, we will lose, will man
Soon the ice will come again
Not long now, the glaciers
When the Stream turns, the cold will come again
Ice; harsh, gliding, white, crunching, rock-armed
Its curved shield, pushed by a million years
Will cleanse the land again of us
In a bow wave of sand, and soil, and grit, and man