Beyond the pale of fence and post
Lies my field. I call it mine
Since I watch it more than most,
Studying from inside a life
Unlike my own, gazing at
Nature’s special way, marvelling
The diversity which we who work
Forget. A hint of habitation
Rests at top, a feeding spot in front
For cow and calf who roam the land,
Munching the cud, though now they take
Their leave. Instead, a mare holds stage,
Her chaperones still as state beside her,
Until dancing their cavorter kicks out.
What would the master think
Who walks his way in kingly fashion?
No more, I suspect, than the bull
With muscled neck might thank
His luckless mount towards choicest mate in town.
Look there, a troop of magpies
Go, peck, scavenge on the ground,
Less than score but not so less as half,
Then swooping down in squadron form
Carrion crows sweep the grass,
Scattering cousins to the trees,
And the field is theirs. They wander,
Sometimes close to garden, rarely over,
For this belongs to one
The fiercest of their kind.
One day my field was quiet. I dropped my eyes
To find the garden fell dead too.
No bird song anywhere,
No friendly red breast hopping ground,
The swathes of tit, both blue and coal,
Absent from their perch of nutty tower.
Squirrels, rampant up and down tree bark,
Hid on high, and my favourite friend,
Big pigeon rank and file, always
Then I saw it. A sharp, hooked beak,
No more than bird of prey treading
Feathers into dust, feasting, alert,
Looking round. Its victim lay dead,
Blue, that blue which made me sure
My pigeon’s mate was stolen.
I crept downstairs and out the back,
Took a stone and with all might
Threw it at my enemy. Too slow,
It was gone, up, away,
Soaring skyward through the trees,
Now arching back above, beating
Fast across the sky and on to
Other clime. I went inside,
Alone with thoughts of sadness,
Upset by Nature's way. Death
Lay behind, and carcass swarmed around
By wasp and fly.
How glorious then to see
My warrior! For him no interest
With the dead. He came for simpler
Pleasures of the field. Those black eyes glancing
Up, his red mohican waving
As he turned this way. He saw me, looked,
And went. That noble bird, who pecked
No wood this day, lifted my spirit,
And now when my colonel marches on
Parade without his love, mourning
Not the loss which he must feel,
I know to take his lead and harbour no
Regret. Carrion alone lies in the past.