Let us suppose your car packs up
out here. Beyond Broadwoodwidger,
St Giles On The Heath, Virginstow.
It is night - a justice of darkness
that lives on these shapeless acres.
You walk the twisted lane a mile
then, seeing lights, you cut across.
Fields, hedges, a dark shadowed copse.
Fields, gates, the woodland edge.
What do you feel?
You feel the brief breath of an owl;
silence after the fox's cough.
What do you hear?
You hear the weight of condensation
on a vast ocean of bending blades.
A hundred rabbits knew your sound
through the earth, long before the air
announced your voice or waved your scent.
Here there is nothing to save you.
If you lie down now, this wet ditch
may be your decomposing place.
Who will find you? Only strangers.
Still the dark world will keep moving,
eating, weatherbound, star stared.
Out here, in the twitch of spiders,
the fright of jays, the quick knee-jerk
of a cricket's ear - a moment
considered, passing, forgotten.
The only trace: a disturbance
in the scent blown down from the wood;
an imprint on the retina
of a cow's large soft eye, fading.
Originally published in Otter New Devon Poetry C.1989
and included in A Fright Of Jays published by Maquette Press 2015