Lych-gates

As the village climbs,
the granite shifts: fifty years
carving script from script.

My fingertips trace
the letters, silver on grey,
reading the stone face.

The school failed. The church
took the centre, the children
without a retreat.

A thistled terrace,
old chalk, new grass, a boyhood
cropped out of the scarp.

How barb and needle
make this upland corridor
an unlit corner.

Two aircraft hangars,
decommissioned and distant,
two empty blisters.

Above the pipeline
and the plough: seed, thread and cloud,
yield and dispersal.

Wind at the lych gate.
You, who had to leave this house
to build another.

Scratched into Hackpen’s
steep flank, a fossilised horse
attacks the herepath.

The air held the thought
of you, it moved the brambles
and the bridleway.

Flooring the Ridgeway,
blocked in concrete, lost timbers
of the Sanctuary.

The boy stops before
the barrow, stands where I stood,
thirty years ago.

A limestone hollow:
shelved in the north transept, three
open-mouthed swallows.

Wroughton to West Kennet, 23 August 2014 

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