EBW

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The potholed bumps announce I am back here once again

Back on these paths I’ve shared but more often walked alone

So many moments of meaning here:

Shrivelled last year’s acorns that rattle round my boot

Tacitly I greet the landmarks only I would know

This dear little holly just by that unusual bole

 

 

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How often here, with a child or two in tow

To exercise the dog and walk imbalanced on every fallen log

Sculpting work and pleasure plans afoot

Each tree as known as faces of the old friends they have become

All those ants that tried to bite

And nettle stings, knee-scrapes and fights

That time a fungus looked just like a witch’s nose!

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The chiff-chaff that I learned to tell apart

The squirrels chased and great galoshing puddles jumped

Soggy picnics and “don’t you dare touch that!”s

The time I slipped just here and hurt my back

The leaves we tried to catch in vain

The den I never could quite fit in

 

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This bank, that patch of moss

All the memories which signal loss

Mind that root, the one just past this fallen tree

“Please tell me when you need a wee!”

The times the dog would not come back, no matter how we called

The stormy days where creaking trunks harried me along

The hours and hours measured on the Fitbit app

Can ne’er do justice smell of sap

 

The various hands I’ve held along the way

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Those real as well as real to me

The wind and rain that sang their sovereignty

The forgotten small talk at crossed paths

The ‘swamp’ where we say ogres live

And sticks for wand and broomstick play

This fork comes out by the holly I picked that year

(and pricked myself in equal measure)

The brief enchantment of bluebells by the thousand

And better ken of why in times long past the ice defying greens cried “MAGIC!”

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Three times Dog has been bramble bled and rushed off home

And crossly kindly nursed to health so that we might return

Sweet chestnuts’ prickly cases strewn

And ditches full of autumn leaves begging to be rolled in, buried in

Scooped up and thrown with a confettied exuberance of joy

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The sorrows sobbed and days when delight bounced in every step

Childish glee at cracking icy puddles

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The first times I explored this way

Dropping mental breadcrumbs lest I stray

The good friends we found those owlets with

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The days of anger, stomping its staccato out

The cool relief from summer’s ray

The very air of all those days and days

The footsteps just a little fraught in winter’s race against last light

Catkins and acorns gathered by little hands

To be later glued into a joyfully pointless mess

 

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The gate where you stood and watched me drive away

The trees still speak of that sad day

There must be an injustice in all I have taken from this place

The solace it has freely given

How many times I’ve stayed “just a little longer”…

(Can’t I stay? Must I really go away?)

…To revel in this constant moment which is above all other

The joy of days when watches ticked away unchecked

This place: a playground; diurnal duty; sweet relief from life

Those fairy toadstools that we saw

(another “don’t touch that!” implored)

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Butcher’s Broom, I know you too

You live near the possibility of being

Without restraint or fear or shame

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The thoughts and thoughts and plans, half realised, half forgot

The details plotted in this space, sketches of my future paths

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I know you woods

I know your avenues of twisted barks

The rustle of the leaves caressed

That leap I make across the stream

That tree askew, yet wonderfully so

These little gems I’ve come to know

I’ve taken pride in sharing you with those who’ve walked here by my side

I’ve led a few to joy this way

For ‘wonder’ just follow this brook

(In wintry times at any rate)

Now my time to walk these paths is poor

There’s a new path leading me away

Though always going full circle here

I have also come so far

Always so much detritus from the forest floor

That sticks to clothes and reappears much later

In the most unlikely places

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This time can only be of itself:

Future trips down memory lane will never be quite the same

As the vast banks of memories I’ll carry away with me

Such memories are not without weight but the burden is an honour

I have lived and loved in this place

Lived and loved so well.

The potholes bid me a bumpy farewell as I go on my way again.

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