by Gillian Clarke
Summer, and the long grass is a snare drum.
The air hums with jets.
Down at the end of the meadow,
far from the radio’s terrible news,
we cut the hay. All afternoon
its wave breaks before the tractor blade.
Over the hedge our neighbour travels his field,
in a cloud of lime, drifting our land
with a chance gift of sweetness.
The child come running through the killed flowers,
his hands a nest of quivering mouse,
its black eyes two sparks burning.
We know it will die and ought to finish it off.
It curls in agony as big as itself
and the star goes out in its eye.
Summer in Europe, the fields hurt,
and the children kneel in long grass,
staring at what we have crushed.
Before day’s done the field lies bleeding,
the dusk garden inhabited by the saved, voles,
frogs, a nest of mice. The wrong that woke
from a rumour of pain won’t heal,
and we can’t face the newspapers.
All night I dream the children dance in grass,
their bones brittle as mouse ribs, the air
stammering with gunfire, my neighbour turned
stranger, wounding my land with stones.