April on Clunbury Hill
Dingle, coppice, tall trees
paddocks stitched by hedges
flower bells ringing for moths, for bees
by river Clun’s hoof-trampled edges.
Solitary oak, windswept and shorn,
on the path from Clunbury to Clungunford.
Badger lolloping with cubs just born.
Lamb still wearing its birth cord.
Dandelion clocks ready to be blown,
grass tufted, as the stag beetles discover.
Magpie expectantly gliding down,
Blackthorn flowers as the hedgerows recover.
Ewes single-file on winding paths.
The dawn chorus a medley of rhymes.
Chain harrows pull feg* into tidy graphs,
Tractor burbles and the church clock chimes.
I am walking, watching, stopping to stare
at the sky for a returning swallow,
that crescent-winged herald slicing the air,
with a singing that defies all sorrow.
Farmer, hunched, lugging hay bales
cap rim black with lanolin,
he strides across to fix fence rails
surrounded by ewes’ demanding din.
Baling twine sprouting from both pockets
overcoat that once was best,
beset by forms, regulations, dockets
one day, on this hillside, he will come to rest.