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I walk the gravelled arteries
of the Split Hills
and the Long Hill Esker;
all 5k, with scarce grass
thinning like a scalp,
touch in my passing
ash, hawthorn, oak, an Irish whitebeam;
finger primrose,
kneel to bluebells,

Pungency, and its babies,
with narrow leaves
appear, then disappear
among the esker stones.

On the old and active faces of hillsides
yellow-wort and carline thistle
beam in midland weathers.
Millennia like children
hear the polar torrents cease,
watch the arctic ice retreat
till the gravels layered like the couples over there
settle into hills.

All that celtic entourage with kings
righting their broaches
across warring centuries
on their speeding chariots
sweeps across the esker.

Here, years ago, Tyrrell and his men
sabotaged the British.

The land shrugs them off for pity’s sake
like night mists, like recurrent nightmares
wakes in a pristine lake with yellow gorse
blackthorn blooms, a marsh with slender sedge.

Not many walking all over it, like heralds
slim students like botanicals
where it’s hazelled on the knolls.