Half of June lost down lanes of puddles,
damp swallows ill tempering iron skies low
over fields of bullocks mooing with the cold.
In the verges hares nesting under hawthorn umbrellas,
their tall ears bright wet.
Each day reduced by rain falling,
falling and bringing the light
down with it, folding the village in grey confinement,
a mouse’s view, hour after hour after hour.
This evening the door to summer flung
wide open and before someone slammed it shut
the boys and I marched out into skylarks
the sun warm on our backs like a lantern,
and followed the track up to the old barn
the dog running on ahead,
we throwing a high ball between ourselves
all the way to the scots pines
where we stopped to look out for miles
it felt like this was our high country to
roam, two boys and their father playing
in the light
and we would go on like this forever.
Shouting, we occupied the barn,
pigeons fleeing out over our heads
and it became our ruined headquarters.
We sat on bales eating sandwiches and
listened to the wind
working the corrugated roof into twists of blue sky.
The boys poked owl pellets with their toes,
they were soft with fur,
crumbling into skull fragments
and bone pieces.
After a while we went out
and began to throw the ball onto the roof
listening for its rattle
and as it spilled off
and we sighted it
raced one another to catch it
and the catcher threw it back,
high out of sight up onto the broken roof
until one time the ball failed to materialise
and we stood there grounded,
waiting for good news which was not available.
We turned back towards the village,
running down the track
minding its deep ruts and chalk places
the evening sun late in our faces
lighting elderflower torches in the hedgerow,
and across the shivering barley field
it carried away our shadows,
two boys and their father and a dog
laid out headlong,
dark and plain and fleeting.