The car aerial, pinioned by leaves, whiplashes,
lancing clusters of bird cherries,
scythes the air with a spit of grapeshot,
ripe pips for the gluttonous orchard.
We travel under a vault of trees
bowed with light and strung with slats of sun,
a cool, green harp stirred by heat.
The black lane ribbons in and out of shadows.
I remember when, secure in raincoat, wellies and sou’wester,
you loved the rain, had to be restrained from deep puddles
and the generous slop of farmyard,
sheep churned mud and marshy rot of leaves.
Now you run to the car, grumbling, coatless, hatless,
wipe steamy windows with an irritable swipe of sleeve
instead of drawing pictures or your name,
request I drop you right outside school gates
to save you getting wet.
The sheep are still as ghosts,
the lime tree shivers, cracks a frozen sky.
A pearl of light seeds the horizon,
spills over the stiff hedgerows,
unclenches a chill fist across the valley.
Windscreen wipers cleave the slush like knives
as headlights flood the skeletons of trees,
rise up the cold, grey bones of day.
Light slips under doors, bounces on to windows,
rolls down the glossy meadow flanks to the smooth curve of the beck
where it lingers, deft among the brown ripples, a wash of gold.
We are bareheaded, light as the sweet scented wind,
hearts like skimming stones as we tumble into the old cattle yard