You can walk with me

You can walk with me
along this overgrown path
It’s not too far
but be aware of fallen trees

Watch for twisted boughs –
turned like a lover’s thighs
crossed – coyly – enough
to keep to wedding vows

An overnight layering of leaves
masks raised roots
A wild rose curls – armed
with thorns bared like teeth

Without broken clouds
there is less to see –
no backlit leaves
to play out a sideshow
It is this gate now

Birch Polypore

Scores of lady’s gloves reach
out on this chain sawn patch
whilst less urgent saplings
have slower ambitions

There a sometimes-killing –
but also useful – fungi
sprouts from a rot-set
silver bough

You see it too –
but as a foreign shell
washed up far from tides
without a limpet’s blind tenacity

I tell you – it is also known as
razor strop fungus – 
due to its rough edges –
many lost uses – like fire carrying

We crush this season’s litter
stopping at bright busting
sweet chestnuts –
buffed peel-able virgins

to be split by my heeled
crush – to an extraction
Along our crackling path
of bitter acorns – those

discarded ancient fruits
of last week’s storm –
we see where swung blades of gusts
broke a woodsman’s coppice

Lined

The parallel profiles
of the fifty to sixty linden trees
are bitten-thin by the wind
at this time of year

but their ever-tall alignment
of bared trunks
is still my local fixture

There – spaced by landed
strides off an owner’s count –
along this now hemmed-in route –

once a sublime wide avenue
to a grand house –
ridden up forty-ish years earlier
by a princess –
Sporting Life by her side

Now it is the route to a
sprawled estate
of modern servants
who push their buggies
and pull their dogs
along the uneven surface –

a shaded path
for the good half of the year –
for the other bared months
it is fifty to sixty sundial
shadows – if there is sun –

I haven’t counted the trees –
each a timer set by a lime
in the low winter light

The Lungs of God

I stand under this vault
of our common church –
off-centre on this sea-girt isle

Our stone tradition of roofing
is more to do with fools’ fires
than Heaven’s weight

Here the light is insipid –
no tang of incense
only the blue miasma
off flume emissions

My legs tire – but find no pew –
no tuffet to take me
to the path’s cathartic
kneel-down call

No Room

Through this sludge-week
before your lit Yuletide –
this path of slopped rain
sucks hard on my boots

as I traipse in my circles
of the dog-dug conditions –
through which I’m set fast
by your barked-out orders –

Only return home
with a well-cut one –
which will not then tip –
not ’til the twelfth day –

Such held superstitions –
erected by lost Popes –
were claims on short nights
over our pagan ways –

I’d rather keep cold gods
from the warm living room –
I hold no love
for your desiccated tree

This Parish

We stick to the leaf-kicked route –
a parting of the dry sea of leaves
cleared by dog-following boots –

We tack down its meandered drop
to the time-softened abyss –
plugged not by God – but drains –

where a watercourse once hollowed
the hillside into this shallow dean –
before the slugs of tarmac upstream –

Here the irregular plots of silver birches
ignore the fallen old lady in lime green –
this is the parish of ineffectual giants –

these natives – a copse within the woods –
are a finger-daubed fearful tribe in white –
chary – waiting – as if standing ready –

listening for the infected invaders
from other places – for intruders
who will bring other such followers

to spread the canker and pestilence –
which was not the way things changed –
not until we changed the weather

Above the Ouse

Here are the random spillages
of sorrel-glazed sweet chestnuts –
an overnight downed bounty
which has settled on the layers
of leaves and paths underneath

The splayed-open spiky cupules
offer – like unclipped purses –
their copper-only change –
I finger out those fattened nuts
which were once so desired
to fill the bowls of soldiers –

As I gather – not easy work for me –
the loosened crop on my route –
they mass to make my pockets
weigh as if full of dreadful stones –
but these will not pull me under

Last Summer

From this hill top distance
above the slope of the estate –
there – in thinning October light –
almost aligned to your rooftop –
I see that solitary oak still in leaf –
forever isolated – also cast out –
under which we took our shade
and where my laggard fingers
gripped at your then-bared skin –
slipping below your blue shorts –
flimsy attire suited for sunshine –
but now the cool dew counters
such all out abandonment –
our laid time remains in summer

Samara

Anemochory takes this seamless child
of these immigrants – landed from Europe –
and urges her to fly

We named her Samara because of her wings
and the hope that she will carry
our future further

Her family has been resident here – four centuries –
but historically are the dark foreigners
among landscape and cities

She is Anglicised among childhood memories –
kids awe at her presumption to fly –
We call her spinning Jenny

Sky lines

Bared, here in the sky,
as if upturned, roots
inverted, then left,
a myriad of black veins,

spot-clotted by lime leaves
and the left behind roosts
of the gone summer’s birds:

Like those casts they make
of ant colonies, dead-fused,
but these reached branches
are the uttermost fingers
of the stood still giants.