A soft whoosh, the sunset blaze
of straw on blackened stubble,
a thatch-deep, freshing
barbarous crimson burn-
I rode down England
as they fired the crop
that was the leavings of a crop,
the smashed two-coloured barley,
down from Ely’s Lady Chapel,
the sweet tenor latin
the sumptuous windows
threshed clear by Thomas Cromwell.
Which circle does the tread,
scalding on cobbles,
each one a broken statue’s head?
After midnight, after summer,
to walk in a sparking field,
to smell dew and ashes
and start Will Brangwen’s ghost
from the hot soot-
a breaking sheaf of light,
abroad in the hiss
and clash of stooking.
After the outburst and the terrible squalls
I hooped you with my arms
and remembered that what could be contained
inside this caliper embrace
the Dutch called bosom; and fathom
what the extended arms took in.
I have reclaimed my polder,
all its salty grass and mud-slick banks;
under fathoms of air, like an old willow
I stir a little on my creel of roots.