We thought the rose fields were at their best in September when the kids were back at school when there could still a few fine days.
For some weeks which seem like months to me now, we set out on fair days down the road of my youth over the little hump-backed bridge where the smallholder lived who gave Dad a job, towards the leafy corner where a row of rushing poplars ushered us to the nestling house where spinsters once lived, together with two scrawny cats.
Not far from there, after that slight rise in the road which you couldn’t call a hill, that’s where it all opened up, a sudden splash of colour like some pink and red, a talking point and an uplifting sight, like one of my expressive canvases, brushes dispensed for palette knife or fingers, even a stick. And we stayed for as long as your hip could stand it, for as long as I thought I could stand the grief on that slow walk back home. But this was our highlight, a little outing as the days drew in.
A copse can be an intimate
friend. Most days he roamed there, always
finding something to love, a life of
Late winter was a favourite time; tree tops
took on reddish hues and
there were further signs other
and blue tits’ brighter songs, of the
Today was different. Large boots
had been this way,
their wearer, like
a stump line of grey, stood
barely seen by an old fence, through straight
saplings in sunlight.
He approached the figure, which seemed
to dissipate like mist in the sun, something
he’d mistaken for form
But it was more than
a notion that had led him there. The fence
overlooked a rolling field, familiar lumps
and bumps of pasture unchanged
where lords in their demesnes might
still rule for all he knew.
He leant on the fence, it
gave way in his hand. A piece of torn
grey cloth freed from a nail, flopped to
the damp ground.
He held it,
felt its old thick weave— like a uniform
He pondered the scene in front
of him, gave space to wartime tales,
the remembered lumps and
bumps which might easily hide a