I miss the rooks;
screeching from skeletal elms,
untidy twiggy blotches pocking frame outline,
penthouse suites scraggy as their slanging match,
defiant to the plough below.
Familiars of damp autumn clump,
guardians of once dug, silted ditch,
whose line died as the furrows grew,
rotting wood gross leatherjackets ate.


What gold diverted network roots,
lead shot, stitch-thread, bone orbital,
embraced as hair, Medusa’s head?
Did blood invade the xylem flow
or steel cut sibling sapling growth?


They stood against a rare-seen blush,
more commonly hush of blanket grey
which, though dismal in its way,
drew me nearer to the waiting turfs,
peats moss-cut before those elms were born.
And were, then, rooks familial,
watched hired men slaughter fathers too,
because such deaths demand of them –
droit du seigneur – more feudal dread.


I miss ungainly wobble rags –
more noise distracts from stumble bones –
bundles of wretched countryside,
grim wraiths cackling their woe betides.
They tell me scythe, as always, curls,
those stags for ever plied this land,
that sons will learn their elder’s craft,
mothers repeat their tremble grief.


I miss the rooks, but not their gloom.

Each planted furrow, life from death.





Photo by Volodymyr Tokar on Unsplash



Used by permission of the author.

Stephen Kingsnorth

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over ...more