“Herd” poem by Kate Radford


poem by Kate Radford

I have taken shelter 
			from my kind
	among slow trees in the glen.
Shaded from white 
	by waxy leaves – 
			some spined, some smooth – 
	layered in shades of green
		whittling the weak light
		to bright points
				   of white.
	Underneath here
		is wind
			and the second-hand rain
			(a morning's leavings on the twigs)
		and ivy
			moving across the brown earth
				as motes of stars
				or houses lit in the dark
				(a pilgrimage of plucky green
					across a foreign forest plain).

I am alone
		in my speediness
		my quick stride 
				    my lightning life 
	for here among the mouldering memories of fall

		holly trees walk.

			Coming, grouped in twos and threes
				they bend their slender trunks 
				and walk one-legged down the hills.
			They herd a host of rhododendron
				whose branches splay out wide 
				in their wild ramble
					to their stone-bound paddock. 
				I almost hear the sound 
			of their stampede
				– a braying, and a rattling of branches – 
					– the booming of the holly: 
								(away to me!)
						(come by!) –
			as they who show the hills 
							the meaning of haste
				head home
	from primeval grazing on the heights.