A trace of a temple, an outline
of a religion emerging
through the scraped-back layers
of brushed earth. A square courtyard
stone-walled and fountain-fed.
An alcove for a nymph.
In the latest trench, dark soil
has reached glinting metal buried
at the edge of the Forest: a silver torc,
a thousand years untouched,
an almost-loop like a thumb and a finger
of a god holding on around your wrist.
Here it is, the twisting silver
River Severn flat on the dark vale plain
below the hilltop temple. That same torc
magnified across open ground, broad
when the current’s surging strong,
or a delicate line at low tide.
If I wear this meander around my home
I know my home is safe and guarded
on the land under the eye of a spirit,
shielded by the arc of water
at turns gold and silver
at turns of Earth and tide.
A map of stars
Light crosses light years to reach us and the stars
appear small and dim from here. As time expands,
the names of school friends recede when the divide
widens from the years we remember them over.
So when I look back I think of my friends
as constellations and see patterns in those distant lights,
connecting together the faint memories of youth
to create a set of stories to navigate by.
The wedding present
My gift for you was an acorn.
I told you to plant it
in your garden so you could always be
within reach of a forest.
So you planted it. And with time and rain,
a forest grew around your house.
Fawns graze at your door,
ferns are window frames,
and you are a neighbour
to oak. Observe the seasons
and the lessons they carry.
Collect twigs and moss
and learn to build a nest:
make it hard against the wind
but soft against the skin.
Home should be a place to return to.
Learn when it is time to let go,
and learn how to let go.
Leaves do not fall far.
Don’t be scared to let in new light.
Gather acorns, share them with your children,
and remember how small each beginning is.
Fawns do not stay, but you will find
a set of antlers each year
outside your door. Oak is a marker
for home, and marks the starting point.
Measure time in rings and anniversaries.
Always be within reach of a forest.