Yellow caped, fingers numb,
traipsing to carbolic air again,
to the taste of blood and rust,
a barren desk scarred,
goal-posts fog-deep in mud.
Then the lazy buzz of summer –
a tan-smooth thigh, a freckled shoulder
mapping the breeze,
until I hunkered down again –
how cobwebs were gathered to staunch and scab,
how his father came home from the trenches,
his growl throttle-thick, where he lay flush to the earth,
a hare snug in its form.
I remember his chairs on tables, fingers on lips,
his map of wind, seaweed, a fir cone
to tell the weather.
And how he crumpled,
how the afternoon darkened
to a fall of snow,
that he, finger to the wind,
said was on the way.
How walking home that last summer
across a field of wheat ripe with silence,
I thought of him, his name lichened, nettled
where dandelions and groundsel buckle tarmac,
take root, come up for air.
Ian Clarke. Fenland ex pat poet living in Harrogate. Published widely in anthologies and in magazines. A regular reader on the Yorkshire poetry scene. Latest book Owl Lit published by Dempsey and Windle (2017).