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
forever banished,
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.