The pool below the oak
Remember this: a driftway brimming cow parsley, bramble, its green beaded fruits; the field into which we clamber over wire, balance each other; that pool below the oak, black and bitter with tannins, where the cattle come to lap; the lack of breeze; the oak, its motionless leaves and my face caught, for an instant, in the water, staring into dislocated sky knowing that one of us, in time, in a too-large upstairs room, all floorboards and echoes, will watch lamps silhouetting an empty street and catch, for an instant, in the backlit glass a stranger, someone from another world, staring out into the dark.
Fieldfares and a Knothole, Monks Pool
They steal away sunlight on belly and wing, each stipple and streak, each blade-edge tilted to the wind. Below their squabbling, their barrelling tin-scrape scolding, the determined unpicking of this low grey sky, we trace a line back to silence, in its lee, find a portal to another time: a holloway to copse and clearing, leaf and riotous winding weed, an eternity of green, a pool where you can lie and dream among the curious flickering fry. There is a path, but camouflaged: an old way, trodden by the ghosts of sheep, hidden in the rain lingering on twigs, their mystical upside world. Only your mind can steal into this world; your bones, your terrible human heart, you must leave behind.
The hard edge of her became a cliff-top from which I hung by my fingertips. Far below, the sea lapped cold through empty rooms, windows heaved and clammed. Sometimes she'd smile and I'd rest for a moment on a ledge, its ragged grass secured with clover, cranesbill, vetch, and dream of boats. I was already damned before she knew me. A quiet baby. Ready for a cot, its pink chalk paint and 60s transfers. She was so prepared. She was so unprepared: a row of dolls, an oriental porcelain tea set, the bear she later threatened to burn. There was a girl in her head that twirled like a ballerina, loving the whole sky that she had provided. Not the grubby thing that crawled through hedges, stealing scraps for birds, climbing fences to escape to other worlds. Each day she'd press me carefully into a box and each night I'd break free and fly like an owl to the darkest corners of the garden. She never found me. Now she is old, I visit when I can. I take her flowers, arrange all the necessary care. I am so prepared. I am so unprepared: her frailty, the thinnest gull descending from a cliff, on brittle air.