The M25 at 70

Heading into the west wind
With clouds racing left to right
And a tractor creating dust from the maize
The foreign-registered left-hander
Keeping a distance from the one ahead
Avoiding sheep and cattle
And the HGV loaded with quarried stone
As we count clusters of poppies that speed past.
The eighth now.  

Five miles of North Downs Way
Into Dorking’s natural beauty 
Rape seed and bales of hay
Hedged parsley beside fireweed
With a hint of lavender,
Globes of thistle waving us down
For the queue ahead and hazard lights flashing
In countdown to clusters of poppy,
The twelfth here.
                                                                           High jinks on the London Orbital
                                                                           Looking for more opiate-bearers,
                                                                           Slicing through the countryside
Over dead pheasants and squashed foxes
Piercing the atmosphere of fume,
One of the planets on its course round the capital
Urged to slow up but putting the foot down
Until we pass the next bed of poppies.
The sixteenth cluster counted.
Ambling along at 70 under crossed bridges
And once-used rail-track
Until speed limits circle themselves in red
Slowing us down to walking pace
Preparing for park mode in Flanders
Until we find red clover and yellow rattle
In the central reservation of created meadows,
But all we want are the poppies -
                                                                           The twentieth cluster waiting.

July 2011
On travelling down the M25 with Margaret, who loves to count the poppies, and not our years.