‘Wood On The Downs’ by Martin Malone

Wood On The Downs
After Paul Nash
We have been here before. Uffington, Hackpen,
Grim’s Ditch, Ogbourne St.George, Wayland’s Smithy,
Sparshott Firs, Bishopstone and Barbury;
all the trodden way from Overton
to Beacon Hill. Each place its genius loci,
a favourite colour: Ash-Blue, Ochre,
Payne’s Grey, Terra-Verte, Lamp Black, Sienna.
But today you ditch your winter tones
and bid for late spring. The trees are in leaf,
the chalk from the downland reflects light
from a milder sky. Through field glasses
one sees a landscape that one can see
in no other way
. Here, then, is yours:
the stiff cilia of trunks – a brown-fringed
platoon lost on Hill 60 – ghosts of the vortex,
the leaching colours of pending summer,
the breast, lumbar and hip curve of hill
prone upon the bed of Buckinghamshire.
And there I join you eighty years away,
with my Trojan girl; lifting her face
to mine in the dappled light of the wood.
We have been here before.
(published in Acumen, Issue 74)
(an image of Wood on the Downs by Paul Nash can be viewed here)
Martin Malone‘s recent prizes include the 2011 Straid Poetry Award for new collections, the 2012 Mirehouse and the 2011 Wivenhoe Poetry Prizes. He regularly publishes in magazines such as Smiths Knoll, The Interpreter’s House, Acumen, The Reader, Orbis, PORT and Stand. His book The Waiting Hillside is available from Templar.