Saturday, 13 May 2017

Еднa бреза/A birch tree



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

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