Peter Marshall


We dipped our hands into our gloves.
Our guide led us under the fizzing ropes
and blew his clouds into a gauze of frost.
He talked about broadleafs, buntings,
and dormice over the hum of the substation.

In a coppiced enclosure we fed our gloves
to our pockets. He handed us dowsing sticks
which he had wrangled from old coat hangers.
The wires really did bow to the lost dykes and ditches.
His finger on the map proved it.

PThere was also the concrete culvert
where fox cubs used to coagulate
for the hunt. The pond where the drainage pipes
stuck their chins out was pitted with pink
like tripe and lights before they are bleached.

In an open barn, with Y-shaped props of oak,
young men kick-started the treadle lathes
to fire up ways long set aside, and worked
the green wood with long-handled chisels.
One set a whetstone spinning in its cage.

By now the coppice stools will have grown
to lanky streaks of nothing.
I dream that we can pool all of our subtracting natures.
I am walking out of there with a dormouse tucked away
like a battery for my pacemaker.

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