I go back…to the days of long gone summers
and the cottage close to the thick dark cliffs of fir and pine;
I go back to clusters of rich plums, swinging from
the parabola of their mother-tree as I lie between the furrows in
the sandy soil, feeling the earth’s grains in my hair.

I remember the sky reeling past in jerks of cloud
and darting points of looping lights, shadows of my own eyes.

I go back to the fields of childhood where the furrows
met the wire fence and its vertical barrier resisted the living forest.

A level yard of dry gold grass and furze; especially I remember
the furze of childhood. The glorious blaze of amber flower
against the harsh pointed spears of evil green
even then beauty and pain existed side by side.
I go back to the mellow wood of dark cool barns
the thick soft smell of age-dusted hay;
above all the heat on shoulders as dust rises lazily
round the slow feet of two young walkers through
the hot air of the still chestnut woods

One of them is a me whose existence I had forgotten.

John Coops.

“The Forestry Commission was my paternal grandfather’s employer. He lived in the house I’m remembering, at a place in Nottinghamshire called Deer Dale. (Near there now is Centre Parcs!).”