It is not much of a hill. A smudge of yellowy brown
On the white sky, like fox shit in thin snow.
But it is a Midlands hill, brought to the plain fore
By the black, leafless copse veining the field.
Seen from this distance, the cold thicket gapes wide
Like a mouth opening to utter a muffled word
Without expression. Visible breath exhaled softly
From bones beginning to cool at their edge.
I have gone by its way many times, though not
Beyond the limits of the singletrack road,
And into its closeness. An area of myself,
I have never taken the time or courage to explore.
It is set within farmland where I cannot go,
Because the mud would clag to my already heavy boots.
And there is a bitter smell of wet bonfire smoke,
Growing like stinking ivy from within my stomach.
But if the air was clear and a little warmer,
And my senses open to the hidden earth,
I would smell the lush mulch of the copse’s leaves
Across clum fields and the fresh soil furrows.
The boundaries there impose a mystery within the spindles
Of white birch, oak, ash, and grey hawthorn,
Cushioned in the dead green darkness
Of the sitka spruce plantation. But perhaps it is like
The stand by Foalfoot Spinney, where blue plastic tubs
Drip feed pheasant chicks enclosed by chicken wire;
Or down by Moorwell Leys, where the badger pauses
To think, and stickies her saliva with slugs.