Walk a week's long marathon

Through public footpaths privatised for the occasion,

Blood racing through tingling finger-tips,

The spirit buoyant in summer's heat

With thoughts of the happiest of days

And hamstrings stretched into stiffness.


Pause and watch the reapers

With baking Boland memory

Combining the harvest, gobbling the seed

Ejaculating fruit of the earth

Into trailed bins patiently waiting

While lamenting cows bellow for hay.


Neutered to become our steak

Docile, yet quietly assertive

They stampede the pair of walkers

Ambling along their meadow

Through an electric fence with stinging nettles and burrs

Rousing weak knees and red faces.


Stick rather to the paths

Where wobbling sandals avoid the potholes

And roll the hips,

Where you might just meet another walker

And find yourself

But never a timid bull.


Unhook the latch and open the gate

You're off the path and on your own,

But follow the signs and heed the code.

Through a secluded thicket find your way

Into shared discovery

That sap rises high through the veins of an oak.


But tomorrow's skies are already clouded

With the moisture of yesterday's heat

And a grey sky and a sad sky

Will refresh the Sussex weald

And as the clouds form and the rain falls

We will revive in dreams.


While you sleep I doze amidst words

Sleep-walking in fantasy

Longing for a return to the path

So that we can close the gate

And drop the latch

To find another grove of trees.


Captured in the racing mind

Of  hypnogognic dance

The image freezes, then thaws

As insight's moment jerks into reality

And the ordinariness of now

Is born with the smell of a rose.


Sewing scissors replace the scythe

Cutting dried grass and full ears ready for a vase

So that the memory of the path will remain

In an arrangement and form 

Which is your expression and my pleasure

Preserving the memory of a private path.


St Julian's


August 1988