Larch needles rain down
yet still there are high apples.
Fieldfares chuckle when finding fruit
starlings make melodies
as they all feast together.
Brotherhood of gleaners
rake the embers of orchard trees,
trees with flickering wings.
Two fields above the river
Farmer Fred is shepherding
in his four by four,
toots at a ewe to get up.
She strains and hobbles,
he takes her to a barn
where brother Bert keeps his eye
on the lame and the sick.
Winter is setting about its shrivelling
raw twigs to a sculpted stillness,
“Not good grass, no goodness in it”.
So the cratch’s* iron wheels wail
with their load of Hay, the summer’s moistures.
The ewes lift their heads, munch and keep busy.
A fog stayed all day.
Residents’ radios spluttered on every wavelength,
contact was lost between village and hill farms.
Trees seen in this fog could be walking
at the world’s edge.
Then rain, enough to fill the air, makes me stand and take it.
I shut down all but sight, grateful for my hat’s brim.
Soil fevered by saturation, mud being lifted from stones
carried off to fill a modest hollow. Wet through,
naked with rain, I slither and steady up.
A north wind pushes over the Long Mynd,
surprises the kite with rough shudders.
Charcoal clouds return, Kite and sun disappear.
By morning the river has slid back into its shell.