I Filing
Following the leader: me. No gaps!
Suppressed giggles; a survey finds
that they are all there, expectant, behind,
deadly serious about this game.

How strong is the thread that keeps them filing,
or lightly meandering adrift?
What spell is this? What if I left,
piping, with them in tow for good?
II Proud moment
Why, when I saw them dance,
coupled rows
of would-be harvesters
in artificial light,
why - even though I
had nothing to do with the way they flung
in easy time
their adult dresses about so merrily -
was there this twinge
as if their dance
were mine?
At what
did this rosy-cheeked
make-believe tug?
III Herald
Why you not teach us?
Summoned thus,
I joined him on the porch.
His question was a starter, not a plea.
Come to my group, I said,
and I’ll teach…we’ll learn, together.
He was in a smart, red tracksuit top
and thin, colourful shorts,
beneath which the knobbly knees were dry.
Aren’t you cold, I asked,
wear your trousers (I knew
he had a brown pair).
Not cold, he said, with a hint of a shiver.
Let’s go and see what colour the river is now,
I suggested, winding my muffler firmly.
Twenty steps to the fence,
hand in chilly hand -
we verified it was a kind of deep green.
Near river there is cold,
he pronounced. We watched the quick flow.
He told me, unasked, a word for the froth.
Sea has white like that,
he commented. I was surprised:
have you been to the sea?
My father go, I also.
Where was that, I asked.
Two years back.
Yes, but where?
It…he paused, frowning.
Somewhere far, I ventured.
He nodded, but soon
gave up the struggle for a name.
Sun will coming, he said
comfortingly, pointing to the halo
behind the mountain’s crest.
And he was off.
IV Spectators
Fingers crept into mine.
Bulging in his new, yellow t-shirt
the smallest on that scantily grassed field,
his eyes anxious, wide
as he strained to be heard above a gritty microphone,
demanded sustenance,
while the doe-eyed one in an orange dress,
her pony-tail now at rest,
stated wonderingly that he’d consumed
all the water in her small, pink bottle.
V My time
They won’t release me - these twittering ones -
as we come to a rest, to spot out the whistlers
that nest against the rim. With one on each side,
I ponder the greenish swill far below.
I urge them to gaze at the dense mountains. I show
profound shadows settling, and mildly chide
their inattention to the way the bristling
upper forests are gutted by the sun.
Urges differ. You cannot divert fledglings
with food for thought. Something’s for me to shed.
Now, with timid persistence, they wish me to go,
once and for all, away from a leading edge.
Nor am I reluctant to be so led -
my time this evening is theirs, as they know.
So far so good
Together, they’ve come to confess
they are in love. In love
but the phrase is taboo, so I
put them at ease with a smile
and indicate I’ve seen
what’s running through their minds.
That helps: they settle into
their chairs and seem relieved
that nothing need be stated.
The issue is this…they listen.
My conversational manner
suits the occasion, and they
are demure. So far so good.
We are complicit, ignore
that the thing between us is hard
to reconcile, a current
that bursts its banks where I
conjure sylvan waters
and play the role of a cheerful
elephant that serves
in the taming of the wild
between seasons of musty.
Just now we smile, I’ll offer
tea. The evening sun
is flooding the lightly cobwebbed
mesh: so far so good.