My Field

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

Waddling, gone.

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.

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