It’s that last day of August.
Mushrooms crown and within
hours, age. Beeches are in
suspended detonation. I’ve taken
the children on one of the walks
on which as a child I was taken:
around the brimful new reservoir,
now ringed like a half-drained
bathtub. A heron hang-glides onto
the mud-flat shore, to the geese’s
rentacrowd derision. Knowing
the children will follow me
since they do not yet know that the way
round is further than the way
back, I’ve walked a half mile ahead,
to the place where the river
spools back to its source, becomes
something like its old self. I leave
my snack-loaded backpack
on the plank bridge and walk
a few yards into the trees.
Small flies are lined up on a twig
just by my arm, but when I unfold
the map they careeen around, then land
exactly as before, scrupulous letters.
The margin we must follow is weak
and ancient grasses surround us.
I hear the children shouting.
They are thirsty, and think they are lost.
The backpack they will find is
primed and fizzing like a bomb.
Giles Goodland has had recent books published by Shearsman (The Masses) and Salt (The Dumb Messengers). He is a keen walker and sometimes manages to take his whole family on jaunts. But he is also happy walking alone.