This morning’s walk was calm and windless but a glance above
Revealed dark clouds, small patches of blue and a straining sun -
Mixed messages for a day full of presentiment,
Alone in the wood save for just one walker and his dog.
The main path is narrow with occasional gates to bar the way;
Leading off are blind alleys into impenetrable trees,
Then the grassy plateau with swathes of blackening plants
And the odd ragwort and patch of gorse both sporting yellow.
Little sign of life today in all this stillness - but
Evidence of coppicing by the rangers holds promise
Of renewed growth in these woods in spring
Just then the single rabbit flashes his white tail while scuttling home.
Before the final hill where Raymond takes my hand to help me
We walk through a narrow path where brambles
Hold out their tentacles so near but not close enough
To touch us or prevent our passing.
Once atop the final hill the view spreads out before us
Against the brightening sky the dome of the Chapel Royal,
Relic of a Military Hospital of bygone days, and so
My thoughts turn from my own difficulties to remember
Those for whom today will not be difficult -
Those who will not see today at all.