Acres of abandoned brick,
chiaroscuro landscape lifted
by wren song’s reedy ratcheting—
house panes blaze in scattered pinks
rising to a light like sprays of roses.
Name it as the sun, then scented brightness
marks the hour and the razed towns dance.
But sidings widen into nothing, the station
sunk to weeds, an animal of tar and rust
dazed by random arsonists.
Boys scale shale embankments,
then ride the landslip down in slow grey waves,
blocking towpaths and the public way
no Sunday walkers visit.
The Council dredges trolleys from the old canals.
The strangeness of the place is broken.
A skimmed stone settles with concentric ease,
my shadow rippling on the water.
I sit in needledrift, and watch
those circles widen and diminish.
A silhouette in hawk flight passes overhead,
high, so high, this wilderness of winding banks
must appear less urgent and remote,
with only the bright sky’s lifting cold
to mark the stooping ratios.