Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Mixed messages on Armistice Day

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.

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