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In February's Throat

Cursing pools in lower fields
gullies chilled between ridges.
Cursing absentee landlords
whose tractors dump mud
in runs and lumps,
leave slicks of soil
swishing to block drains,
fields flayed into mirrors of water.

Cursing convoys of school buses
down Mucky Lane, obstructing tractors.
Loathing rabbits who heave fence gaps
where newborn lambs get stuck.

Hammer in wood stakes,
bring down the beedle* hard,
harder still for the ground to pull
with a suction grip,
a curse exhausted.

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Falling in February

Frost has the clean lines of a pastry cutter.
Oak leaves rustle, winter’s wind chimes,
top notes above the breaking of dead twigs,
the sacrifices of ash, birch and hazel,
their litter, now shielding their roots.

Nobility of snowdrops pushing through,
resting their chins on the frosted rind.
A shock of snow, flakes frisking,
as children at playtime.

Snowflakes becoming smaller
leaning in from the West,
stop suddenly. Sun moulds
a kinder snow, sticking to windows
after one last dart and dive.

Four parallel tracks down Crowther’s Meadow
thin lines of cratch* wheel scars,
outside them, their fumble of grasses,
spread by feeding ewes.
Last year’s harvest pushed down
to tufts, fallen seeds and thistle stems.

Tawny owl eyes half shut,
above the wood-store where
mice are busy beneath.
She’s roosting above her larder as
snowflakes heap up on the fence rail.
Next morning just one gap.
She had fallen dead, now just feathers and bones.

The hill a quilt with washed-out pastels,
hazel catkins drop their finest pollen,
ewes sit solidly for their midday munch,
not a breath of wind, not even a sigh.

Farmyard corners

In farmyard corners the tump* of scrap steel,
Trough run over, edge flattened,
Cratches* off their wheels, lids open,
Bent pipes, cars with noses skywards
Wriggly tin sheets, put ready years ago
All wearing the rust of condemned implements
Grass sprouting through and garlanding.

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First Sight, First Feeling

I saw our fields in a February downpour
thinking “if this is as bad as it gets it’s OK”.
The softening soil gave way, let me in, I took root.
Weather beaten, I love rain as a brother

Copyright © Colin Fletcher (words) and Jay Mitchell (pictures). The Clunbury Hill Cycle
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