A Memory Met
Once I walked south, along a scrubby grass verge,
to my left ran a narrow road,
empty, silent, in my memory,
no car, van or tractor passing by.
Stretched out, on either side of it,
lay dark grey black ploughed fields,
flocked over by gulls and crows.
Free of my council house estate,
I was in, what was to us, the country.
The air, a bit stuffy, smelt of turnip and cabbage,
the slime of a ditch for toad, frog and newt.
A telegraph pole rose before me,
tall and stark in the flat land.
I lifted my chin, looked up.
To my surprise, I saw, perched on its top,
high in the air, a barn owl.
I stopped in my steps, smiled,
thinking it must have forgotten its nocturnal nature,
for it was early afternoon, sometime in summer.
I could tell it by its white feathers,
the glare of its black orange brown eyes,
its probing, permanent predator frown.
Hunting in the day, as I now have learned its kind can,
it stirred my blank brain, made its roots quiver,
its juices recirculate through its tubes,
traced itself on a clean screen,
to be kept fresh in clear cells to summon and study.
Bird of the night, startled by daylight,
made it clear why from the ancients
its kind have been thought wise.
It lies in the eyes, large, round, alert,
like those of one who knows much
and thirsts to learn more.
As regards the bird tree,
one who sits on a branch
not far below the eagle.
Our unexpected encounter, chance meeting,
I knew I would always remember.
In a sudden, it must have seen or felt something,
for it spread its white wings, drew in its talons,
swooped from its perch, flapped over the fields
to the dim eastern skyline, vanished before it was reached.
Apart from that, of the walk, nothing comes back.