Doe at Horner Woods
The clearest path is the one I follow by the tug of musk
daubed on the bark of oaks, the fern feathers, the moss.
The breeze turns and I can see by the coded script of scents.
Day and dark, they sing their leap-bound lays: who was it,
what they were up to, how long ago. If we had names
like humans do, I’d say ‘Red Stag the Wise Strut’
grazed this grass three hours ago; ‘Sister Doe Flit’ drank
from this puddle near dawn and she was warm. She left
of a trace, her unique tag. And in the wake of it,
Her thin-air toe-gait stirred the sighs of rained-on earth.
My thought tunes to the slightest twitch. I read the eyelash
flick of every blade of grass, and, talking sense behind my back,
the neat calligraphy of twigs, which blurs, if they are still,
into a dunce flat mat. But what stops for long? The stars
pour to the west; the planet’s magnetic streams swish
underground; spring slides through the growing trees and
sap pumps from their roots to their bursting buds.
The anxious leaves suck air, then spit it out. I hear it all:
your breath, your heart in your mouth, the lifting of your hand.
First Prize at Hope Bourne Poetry Competition,
organised by Exmoor Society