All afternoon she counts the sounds
until the fly-specked room crackles with silence.
Even the song thrush noteless. A thick drizzle
trickles rivulets down the window pane,
smears distance on fields, curtains-off hills
and greens the sagged thatch,
aches in the creaking gate and screws
watering eye to misting glass:
a hearse skids slowly up the muddy lane,
blurs in droplets on a spider-web,
spins sideways into darkness…
…rattling cough of cattle, rusty tractor,
hinge of paint-peeled door, gears
of cars forced to back in one-track lanes,
buzz of pylons spanning the hum
of outboards in the yachtsmen’s creek,
yelp of kids in the converted Mill,
the soft click-click of a camera-shutter
up Corkscrew Hill…
The casement steams with sunset. She picks herself
up off the floor, mouth dry as mourner’s grin.
Her arm reaches, shakes, reaches again,
gathers the clattering jar from the shelf.
The landlord frowns, sniffing cat,
moth-ball, mould. She squares her back
on his fine view – the duck bob,
seagull clutter, gape of lime kiln.
“And a nip of lovage,”
before he can point her
the off-licence hatch in the yard,
“to keep out the damp!”
and smiles spittle.
Her flagon scrapes a scroll of varnish
the length of the bar’s stripped pine,
past bleating townies, past the regular’s chair
and the corner where the photographer
sits draining her valley
through a tilted lens.