A Single Thread

I

Memory is a bird
a caprice, agile
darting through gaps
that separate known
from unknown
solidity from fancy
sometimes harmonious
a mistle thrush
others, a stormcock’s
tree-top defiance
swept away on a gale.

II

Once, at the back
of the farm; a place
where the footpath
diminished to a capillary
then dissolved
the other side
of a child’s knowing
six elms in echelon
crowned the hill
marking the edge
of another place
the grey beyond
a diluted land
a hazy exile.

III

One June Sunday, gripping
his father’s blackthorn
he strides, tiny steps
but with purpose
down the garden
to the five-bar gate
and waits, perched
on the topmost bar
for the walkers
who always come
following the path
through the yard
a common trail
a shallow incision
fastening past to present
lost to found
forgotten to remembered
forged by footfalls
in incalculable numbers

notched
by seasons out of mind
a single thread
in the vast cloth
woven by wanderer, flock
drover and pilgrim.

Seized by impulse
he quits the refuge
of his stockade
and follows, tracking them
cautious, curious
maintaining the prescribed
distance from strangers
approaching the hedge line
only as they dip
below the horizon.

Where field
evaporates into sky
pale sunlight
brushes the Cathedral
as it sails
the shimmering distance
only seen before
in close-up
from the back seat of a car
but he knows it
and more, that
this is a place
not to be feared
but embraced, borrowed
then annexed
his own.

IV

The hill is uncrowned now
noble elms hewn
by a random
untreatable spoor
but the prospect remains
not all he knows
but all he needs.

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4 thoughts on “A Single Thread

  1. This is yet another wonderful poem, Julian. The thread (single, no doubt) throughout keeps flitting between the brain, the mind, neural pathways within the rural landscape and memory. The birds, like afferent neurons, touch upon memories in different ways and in this, your poem evokes all those sensory moments that I miss so dearly when I’m not on my walks back home in Wales.

    I also admire how well you see the natural landscape, yes ‘where the footpath diminished to a capillary then dissolved’ is so wonderfully astute and, like memory, there are paths that sever in time and are difficult, if not impossible, to re-forge.

    notched
    by seasons out of mind

    May be my favourite lines: they evoke everything that you’re saying in this delightful play-on-image poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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