Before the days of monsters, a dark childhood in the wild,
there was a time when I could breathe the heart’s breath of a child.
For three years after the War, and up to the age of five,
I rambled in the early taste and touch of being alive.
A green leaf through the soil, I looked at seedlings in the field,
and made holes for tomato plants, and fetched the ruby yield.
In the wet woods I wandered, slopped in puddles up the home path,
to enter the familiar world of an old round tin bath.
Something in the shade of the sea, something in the salt air
shared a secret with a new mind that turned up here and there.
Something in the glint of the sun, that harboured its own knowledge,
sprang up from the steady-deep stream of an old fishing village.
It is 64 years later on. Something plucked at my brain –
and I revisit for the first time. Three days of sun and rain
and I am that small boy again by a hedgerow in a field
next to a tin-bath cottage. Back in an early world
I walk by ferns and bracken, pink campion, elderflower,
wild strawberry and buttercups. I am back in the hour
of a princeling on his pathway, of a fortune at the flood,
of a time that takes me in its boat to where the going’s good,
of a way that welcomes new life on, to settle in the power
of a rich and random beauty. I am back in the hour
of wading in a creek’s shallows, of wandering down a hedge –
before the days of monsters, and existing on the edge.