Requiem For The Hedgehog

Poor hedgehog in the road squashed by a car,
What good to you was your hibernation?
Had you woken up but one day later
You might have lived to see the summer through.
But alas you were not destined to be
Another Mrs Tiggywinkle,
Hanging out washing till a ripe old age.
In the horse-drawn days of Beatrix,
Hedgehogs had greater life expectancy!

27th April 1971

Visibility Poor

Five to eight,
Mist outside,
The lighthouse
Foghorn blows
And day tries
To get up.
Airport closed,
Dead taxis
Wait in lines,
No Sunday
Newspapers,
Dull morning.
Black trees in
Grey meadows,
Still cows built
Into mist
Imitate
The foghorn,
Calling down
The Cowman
Wellingtoned,
Great mallet
On shoulder,
To alter
Their tethers.

15th April 1971

My new sister

My sister’s name is Lucy
And she’s only four months old,
She coos and gurgles all day long
And is quite as good as gold.

Now I’m her grown up brother,
I’m nearly two you see,
In all our games, in all we do,
Lucy will follow me!

November 1971

Robin

A robin sat on the roof
And sang his heart out
As we loaded wet concrete
Into the barrow,
Shovel by painful shovel,
And pushed it away
To lay the wall’s foundations.
With two tons shifted
Since the lorry unloaded
And two still to go,
We were in no mood to sing,
But robin sang on
Into the grey afternoon.
Our hearts were lighter
Even if our loads were not.

23 December 1971

Jerseys All

On summer nights at six o’clock
The cows come slowly down the lane,
Their udders hanging low with milk
And Iris leads them by their ropes.

There’s Daisy, Sue and Goodlands Bess,
Verbena, Violet and Rose,
And Clover out of Marigold
With velvet dewlap, honey brown.

There’s Bijou next, not yet in milk,
And Patience with the broken horn,
And last of all along the lane
Comes champion Primrose, great with calf.
 
They turn into the farmyard gate
Where Beauty greets them with a bark;
Off to the milking sheds they go,
Each to her stall with fresh straw laid.

The fields behind them, closely cropped,
Are left to mists and fairy rings,
While red ball sun behind the trees
Sinks slowly down into the marsh.

The pails are full, the milking done,
The churns are stacked out in the yard,
All in its place the farmyard sleeps
And dreams beneath the milky moon.

 
15th May 1971

House Building

Two magpies stalk across the building site,
Ruffled by the cold wind through the thorn hedge.
I don’t really know what they hope to find
In this wasteland of concrete and gravel.
Perhaps next year when the grass is growing,
There’ll be crusts thrown from our kitchen window.
Are they looking for building materials
Among the curled shavings and the rubble?
They’re welcome to share ours around the plot,
Especially as there are two of them
which always augurs well for the future.

3rd April 1971

Branchage

Potato fields
Are empty;
Haulms turn brown
In the sun.
All along
Country lanes
Sickles cut
Deep into
June grasses.
Red campions
And nettles
Fall with vetch
And yarrow.
The shorn lanes
Are wider
And sadder.
Tomorrow
Men with rods
Will pass here
To measure
The clearance,
Fining each
Landowner
For any
Obstruction.

1971