[ai] my [ɪ] this [ʌ/ ʊ] up [ɒ] bottom [i:] fields [əʊ] sowed [e/ eə:] cairn

[ɑ:] starved [ei] way [ɜː] perch [ʊə/ u/ u:] dew [au] ground [æ] and

[ɔː/ ɔɪ ] dawn


I stepped it, perch by perch.
Unbraiding rushes and grass
opened my right-of-way

through old bottoms and sowed-out ground
and gathered stones off the ploughing

to raise a small cairn.

Cleaned out the drains, faced the hedges
often got up at dawn

to walk the outlying fields.

I composed habits for those acres
So that my last look would be

neither gluttonous nor starved.

I was ready to go anywhere.


This is in place of what I would leave
plaited and branchy

on a long slope of stubble:

a woman of old wet leaves,

rush-bands and thatcher's scollops,
stocked loosely, her breasts an open-work

of new straw and harvest bows.
Gazing out past

the shifting hares.


I sense the pad

unfurling under grass and clover:

if I lie with my ear

in this loop of silence

long enough, thigh-bone

and shoulder against the phantom ground,

I expect to pick up
small drumming

and must not be surprised
bursting air

to find myself snared, swinging
ear-ring of sharp wire.