No sun blaze but clear walking weather
sheds light on gangly buttercups
just beyond where tarmac promenade
gives out to flinted towpath.
Across the water, the signs that read
Private – no mooring sit next to
half-heartedly flapping Unions Jacks.
Escaped ornamental geese have no truck
with gated houses on the other bank:
they stand in the downstream breeze,
look truculent and squawk
at species not behaving as they should.
As if on cue, ducks mob a sitting target
of transplanted gulls and gulls,
transplanted, duck in and out
of midge clouds, changing their diet.
A heavy-footed jogger stops and turns
for home and there on the footpath
is a dog that’s silly with fur.
Accents speak louder than words.
On the way in, returning,
consciously retracing steps,
everything’s doing its best
to look unfamiliar –
this England poised
between Heathrow flight paths
and the Thames Valley.
And not so far beyond
the rowing club, the one-way
roundabout system –
beyond that bridge or near to it –
there’s a silver birch.
There’s this one here in paint.
There’s this one here in words.
Image: Marina Shiderova; text: Tom Phillips