The Grove

lone tree

A yew tree grew there, tall, sprawling
for how long? only when it was beheaded, drawn and
quartered did it reveal its agelessness
as it stood guarding entry to crossroads

mule and donkey, horse and cart,
shuffled the old tracks
meeting at a crossing point on the
edge of the world

between space and the severn
north towards luxurious villas,
south to the heady mix of a cosmopolitan city,
amphitheatre and forum for all

deep in the creases of the valley
soft green fields speak nothing of
apollo, his coined gifts forgotten, his
springs now clogged, mudded and clayed

washing itself away as rain scrubs
down the hill, exfoliating
there, glistening in the wet sun
a shell so perfect, so atrophied

remnant of a tropical sea
turquiose green brimmed with life
luxuriating in marshy swamps
no more

wild garlic and elder strangle
now rabbits nibble fresh shoots
deer silently skit saplings
buzzards screach their ever rising circles

the tree on the bury watches, waits,
hand raised, a spear? guarding what?
the wind wheals round corners
whistling through nothingness

water tripping skipping down to the severn
brown and beige or deep paynes oceanic
down down down to the plain
distanced and yet moonlike

pushing and pulling the water, the weather,
my spirit, as cloud and mist drape,
as southerlies charge up stream, as
sun topples exhausted in cushioned forest

worshipped still by those hurtling through
the wooded edge, bumping over roots and
rocks sitting out their time
but the bones of those who loved

this place, relied on protection, water, venison
who laid their embalmed bodies at Hetty’s
Tump, at Bellas Nap, at Uley Long Barrow,
up and down this spine, are long gone

fortunate bones in grubby glass
boxes, museum grey, aged, unrevered
less happy, thrown long into the excavated
rubble, no pretence to care about the dead

the yew tree rebirths
new shoots reach up

dry valley


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