Where the wildings are

On the scrubland, up by the pool
Is a hedge, bird-planted,
Irregular, gnarled, bowing –
Part-clipped by passing walkers,
Rubbing shoulders with dangling limbs
Of dappled haw and speared blackthorn;
And just where the path forks,
Where the blackbirds forage,
Is a runt of a tree –
Contorted twigs,
Rucked-up bark,
Leaves, blotched and marked –
Feral street kids
Searching for favour
Amongst the big lads.
Yet the fruit shines as it falls now,
Some glossy where it’s smiled at the sun,
More, lime green and bashful
Most, tumbled and fallen,
Littering the path – a cider-mulch
Sweet like Valhalla’s mead –
The only Gods here, the hawk moths
And feasting crows.
No orchard this –
No tending, nor pruning,
No skirting, nor grafting –
Just the illicit love children
Of a discarded Orange Pippin
And – who knows? Perhaps noble lineage
A Foxwhelp or Peasgood’s Nonsuch?
For now though, these bastard children,
These wildings, rule the republic
Unhampered.

Mating calls

The shrill penetrating attack of a Greenfinch
Insistent, urgent, agitated – calls for a lost love up above.
In the hedgerow, the calmer, bass, wooing
Chitter-chat of a love-struck Great Tit.
Away, under a straggly drooping laurel,
The guttural, dirty laughter of flirting pheasants;
And in the distance, the boorish, drone
Of a chainsaw; tediously barking the mating call
Of extinction.

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