Joints creak, muscles ache
in shins and thighs and hips on the uphill plod.
Feet crunch quietly on a mattress of beechnuts
as my gait sways, knees twinge, tramping down
to a bottom where dry flakes of tree skin
litter a damp clabber of mulch
and moist, sour branches: scabby, redundant limbs
loll helpless in time’s pull, fold, pack and pressure.
Massive fulling hammers at Hirst Mill
robbed this glade of silence for a century.
Children and women worked all hours to soften
stuff for clothes, felting the warp and weft of wool
for those who could afford it. Old age
wants good upholstery, needs give.
I slip from a fallen trunk, unyielding as corvid calls,
to the thick, slubbed tweed of the forest floor
gaze up at ancient beeches, pollarded
like organ pipes, rippling sunlit branches
rope tricks of light
long naked limbs shot through
with syrupy, sappy life.