The Fen Traveller

In the grey light of a fenland winter
The scouring wind peels back
The peat, blows away
Reed fragments, leaves
Tumbled sand and silt.
The fens drop inch by inch
Into the past, falling into fields
Poplar belted, where in summer canopies
The golden oriole whistled.

But now, limbs bare,
Trees punctuate tired stubbles,
Chess boarded with black peat.
Sheeted water folds light
Into new drills of wheat.
Stands of elephant grass,
Orange flagged, harbour
Urgent finches, newly arrived, winter
Worrying at seed sprinkled fields.

Yellow flashes across grey
Horizons where asparagus ferns
Blanch at the first frost.
Further, the distant turn of turbines,
White bladed, fanning the horizon,
Scrubby woodland cowering in their shade.
Bridges span the river,
Span time since
Hereward first hid here.

A fen traveller sees all;
Crossing a land held captive by
Its watery web. But down
Under the mole bumped fields,
Paddle pawed, the blind eyed,
Burrower, pushes through bronze age scent
Past bog oaks, fallen
But rising now, iron stained
To the grey light of a fenland winter.

First published in Country Living September 2011; reprinted in Words for Wide Skies 2013

Poetry & Prose