A mystery of woodland, do you remember?
That planned, adopted chaos of underbrush
on the route leading up to Mentmore Towers?
They came out from Luton in their Ford Cortinas,
parked on concreted turn-offs, thought
this was the height of romance, lights out,
the sunset bleeding over ploughed earth.
We were brats (no other word for it),
sneaking up out of the darkness, like extras
in Lord of the Flies, to bang on steamed windows,
then make a run for it through convenient scrub.
Each time we might have been so easily caught –
here on this shaped and archaic landscape
not so far from where decisions had been made
whose consequences played out here –
here where we had no idea what history lurked
between parked cars and would-be lovers
escaping some great vision for the future
not so different from those striated gothic facades
from which everything once must have seemed
uncluttered, safe, unchaotic.