They are changing the colour of the field
across from Rockpits. Blue-cabbed tractor
cutting grass: in the hedge
a cock pheasant is drowned out.
The pleading voices of lambs
are blown this way and that.
Grey heron on the far bank
gets up, but low enough
to almost feather tip
its slow green shadow.
Newness is wearing off ducklings,
no longer mottled smudges,
whirling legs with beak first:
and there are still eight.
Swallows faster than thought, blade height,
stretch perspective, tug vanishing points.
Far off, rooks circle farmyard oaks.
Mallards are flighting overhead.
Canada geese in a bunched clamour
curve their wings to land,
group, graze... spread out.
Someone is fishing off the stern
moored close to where, two summers ago,
the carp rose, tilted, sucked
at the algaed edge, its mailed back
broad as a fox terrier’s.
The big woods throw shapes
through sudden white sun splashes
colouring the cut from the sky.
A black modern narrow boat
with speakers before the slide hatch
spills out a Levellers CD.
The man nods to "One Way of Life,"
feet on the counter, arm on the tiller bar…..
moving into a cave of leaf-overhang
softens paintwork, mutes roses and castles.
Song thrushes and blackbirds seep back,
trees have their say again, and water.
In the lane sorrel, buttercups,
red campion, ox-eye daisy drifts…..
And found, you’re almost sure,
a single fragrant orchid,
yet couldn’t find again.
But you’re content first to wait, quiet
as the year quickens, then
impatient for a rush of meadow vetchling,
convolvulus, hedge woundwort, red dead-nettle,
rosebay and giant willow herb, tufted vetch…..
Shardlow 84, Preston Brook 8:
forget what the mile post said,
standing up like autumn inkcap
In the warm early evening,
while you on the towpath,
360 degrees, mood swings, gazing,
boots laced up tight, balls of the feet -
wishing to be everywhere at once.