York in Poetry: Knavesmire Woods

Posted on 25 November 2012 | Poem

A blackbird startles, darting into holly
older than the road whose roar
backdrops each rattle of leaf and squelch of boot.
Beside a track monks once walked
upturned trees clench fists of root.
Boles of coppiced oak and beech recall times
when woods were harvest and sanctuary,
not dumps for plastic bags, or criss-cross games
for boys on bikes. All is February dead.

Except that -
stooping, I find the mark of deer,
grooved into growing bark. Fungi gaudy
as smarties or orange pops, stain
fallen wood, or cling to trunks above me.
Rosehips splash blood on tangled briars.
And there – along that insignificant bough
- bud burst: green leaf, watch-spring tight,
first note in a chorus of renewal,
to lighten step and heart.
- Pauline Kirk