Glazed patches of a turgid sky
Spill wet across the hollow lane,
Set feet a course upon a dark and inky
Way, ‘tween soak and sodden stain.
Lapped now by wheel-ploughed wakes,
We take our leave, down slip and slide
Of close-cropped grass, a mead that makes
A dung-strewn spread for hoof and hide.
Through herds of fallow, roe and red,
Where hinds ignore the bucks’ bold brawls,
Antlers each – from lowered, levelled head,
Sound out their echoed, wooden calls.
Now, the rain’s low leaden smell pervades
The blackened filigree of woodland birch,
Through whose winter-darkened glades
We pass, upon our lake-bound search.
Soon the claxon call of geese sounds near,
Sharp pointing north o’er ruffled sheen,
Where mirrored stretch of Tatton Mere
Floods bright across the darkening scene.
Close held here, upon its sloping banks,
Dog Wood’s long, laced spread fast bears
Its earnest squirrels’ springtime pranks,
Briefly stilled to twitch of coupled pairs.
Now more shod by loam than leather,
The valley dips our well-drenched feet
Across its sodden floor, where weather
And its own held rain again do meet.
Exposed ‘neath swarthy skies, the road
Rebuts the mere’s own western shore,
‘Pon paths down which the rain has flowed,
To slide our stumbling feet once more.
Day’s journey done, dark voids of sullen sky
Now wait, still wet across that hollow lane,
Until our homebound wheels splash by,
Feet held aloft at last from soak and sodden stain.
Clive S Johnson
Poet for August