A lane pulling away between
fields laid low with winter wear.
The village men and women
out in January weather,
their boots clocking hours against the road,
raking hay and plastic out of the verge
their spades cutting places
for thorn and hazel.
The wind coming in and
the lines of rain on the wind,
everyone bends to digging
and the sacks of whips being ferried up the row
until each blows out empty,
the bales of stakes cut free
and each stake pushed in deep,
narrow governor to a tree.
All afternoon firing off these salvoes
down into the cold ground until
just before dark, villagers leaning on their spades,
spent, imagining their presence in this hedge,
their intention to remain growing out of it,
an urge to make better what has been found.
Stopping too, to rest my hands
dirt-dark and pricked –
tight with local resistance to invasion
I feel the villagers’ love,
unspoken but love unmissable:
love in the talk, in the slow gain,
the labour and the laying down,
love in the planting to blemish what is bare, fill what is empty
and come spring bring blossom and green wicks to the brown –
love in this place, in the changed air delighted,
our country loved with new obstruction.
Tomorrow will bring more labour like this,
more fellowship and the joy of it, the joy.