As we draw closer to the end of an academic year, as children begin to think of doing things for the last time – the last time in this class, this school, with these people, I have been thinking of the poignancy of repeated things coming to an end. Every day you do something, and then you don’t. In this case, it was the walk to school – now itself a memory. We passed through a piece of common land within our market town. It was the nearest place we could go to run, roll down hills, sledge if the snow was right. Each day, if it is your time for walking through it, you can see some change in the growth of the plants, hear the birdsong, notice the way the path dusts your shoes, or muddies them. Sometimes it felt as if we were part of the place, and certainly the place is part of me. Each time you walk a familiar path, you can bring the experience of the previous times with you most strongly, it seems. Memory can be vivid, and overlay your experience of the now, as if you are in two times at once. I try to explore that strange, split-second sensation in this poem.
I have some photos of the Fen Meadow buttercups, and orchids, but none of the willow trees yet. Dry weather is necessary for the mounds of seeds the poem describes, and that has been hard to find so far this summer! If I can find a dry moment with my camera, I shall share the pictures with you. For now, I hope the poem helps you “see” the beauty of the place.
I hope you enjoy.
FEN MEADOW – JUNE
We have been here so many times
before – this very spot – where
white clouds of seeds drift down
from willow trees, and fill our path.
You smile, and gather mounds of
whiteness – heaping the downy
seeds like warm snow. What if
it stays till winter? You ask
And suddenly green grass
vanishes in a blaze of white
ice: bare trees, a low sun.
Our screams and laughter are
muffled by scarves as the old sledge
tips – I run my fingers over the scar
we left on the bark – and we shiver
in the warm sun. The very spot.
The breeze trembles again in full
leaves, and all around us buttercups
shine, and dandelion stems shudder.
You pick the clocks and blow
till bedtime, counting the hours:
lunchtime, morning, soft evening.
Your breath floats high, and
hangs in the air. Waiting