Skylark

Head down, dog padding
Through scruffy undergrowth;
Soft soundings, nose alert,
Attentive to the inattentive,
Smooth yet probing darts
Weaving around and between:
Stumble hazard, on leads
Or upended turfs;
Thistle humps,
Or last year’s potato-crater.

The field is fallow now,
Tides of weeds have washed it,
Swashed with dandelions and bugloss
Chickweed and willowherb
The florally malignant
Scent of Roundup absent here
The only metastasis
Is wildness… and how…
How it has returned.

Blown from the high fells,
In a few short months
The skylark has made his commute
Dancing on the vortices
Plummeting and soaring
Grabbing the air with fanatical flapping
Twittering and chittering
Warning me, warding me
Away from unseen homes.

In this scruffy sward,
Abutting the gravel mine,
Scarred by habitation,
Criss-crossed by heedless joggers,
The dock and the skylarks,
Horsetail and lapwings
Signal a retreat of sorts,
And the return
Of an ancient civilisation.

Drove Road

Paths walked for long years,
Long legs, shoe-shod
Or cloven, a short hop
From field to fair
Along these ridges
Fringed with trees;
Viewing points guarded
Only by skylarks
And hovering jackdaws
Whooping on thermals


Years on, these same paths
Cut across the high hills still;
Close-cropped chalk lands
Skylarks still chattering
Their nattering call;
Sentinels too 
The mossy finger posts
And picnickers parking bays 
Offering tarmacked vistas
Onto overgrown drove roads –

Roads no more:
Bamboozled by brambles’
Blood-bringing barbs,
Nipped by nettles’
Venomous vitriol,
Even the boxy pupils
Of the Wiltshire Horns
Study no longer 
These routes of traverse 
That wane like whispers –

Memory lines lost –
To plants, to ploughs
To the past.