a soft whoosh, the sunset blaze
of straw on blackened stubble,
a thatch-deep, freshing
barbarous crimson burn-
i rode down england
as they fired the crop
that was the leavings of a crop,
the smashed two-coloured barley,
down from ely’s lady chapel,
the sweet tenor latin
the sumptuous windows
threshed clear by thomas cromwell.
which circle does the tread,
scalding on cobbles,
each one a broken statue’s head?
after midnight, after summer,
to walk in a sparking field,
to smell dew and ashes
and start will brangwen’s ghost
from the hot soot-
a breaking sheaf of light,
abroad in the hiss
and clash of stooking.
after the outburst and the terrible squalls
i hooped you with my arms
and remembered that what could be contained
inside this caliper embrace
the dutch called bosom; and fathom
what the extended arms took in.
i have reclaimed my polder,
all its salty grass and mud-slick banks;
under fathoms of air, like an old willow
i stir a little on my creel of roots.