On Wilford Hill
At the boundary, consecration
meets concrete; the ivy thickens
and spreads as it pleases.
Behind the lichen-dappled limestone,
each monolith stands
as a reminder of what will happen,
and in white paint, on top of black,
a scratched and faded warning –
do not tread on the past, keep to the path.
Along the track you stoop, collecting stones –
the flattest, smoothest specimens bulge a pocket,
those that didn’t pass muster discarded
in a desire line behind you.
At the water’s edge you retrieve them,
turn one over between forefinger and thumb,
then hold it aloft like a priest offering communion.
In one swift movement, you pull back
and let go: it skips its way to the centre.
Then you choose one for me, show me how,
hold my fingers. It breaks the surface with a splash, sinks
like a penny in a well.
Glass rooves reflect the fading daylight
of the late winter afternoon.
Gone are the white-haired men in flat caps
turning over the topsoil, burying bulbs.
In long months of cold the bracken has thrived,
and on the edge of night these neatly-plotted patches
seem almost wild. Soon, teenagers will arrive: long-limbed
and awkward in hooded jumpers, clutching open cans, lit cigarettes.
They’ll build a bonfire from that discarded door,
tell ghost stories and forget they aren’t scared of anything.