A different map

April 16, 2010

This autumn we memorised
a different map, one that marked

the course of rivers. We learned to check
the phases of the moon, and calculate

the tides, second-guess the sweep of water
up the estuary, assess the land,

avoid the flood plains, then climb
to higher, drier ground, where a tree

could still be planted and drop its seeds.
We practised spotting toadstools

where they bloomed wet among the fallen
leaves, we fingered bracket fungus

clamped to the trunks of oak trees,
marvelled at the emerald moss, close-knit,

glowing in the grey light. And we caught,
in a glance, so many unlooked-for rainbows.

Only yesterday, we wandered home
through the misty afternoon, wiped water
from each other’s eyes, then stepped
into the garden. We raked up sodden leaves,

leaves of hazel, maple, pear and beech
and shaped them into blazing bonfires.

Angela Haward