Bathed in slanting, eggnog sunlight,
the red-stemmed dogwood stands erect
by a paling fence. Pallid shadows streak
corrugated fields and I grow impatient
for spring to turn them to oceans
of rippling waves of green.
At the top of the hill, a eucalyptus tree,
planted in haste, stakes a claim to this
my cherished land, when a native oak
would have done it so much more proud.
In its stead a slender, piebald trunk
misshapen by prevailing winds.
A cacophony of pheasants erupts – splitting
my eardrums with their cackle, as they scoot
to the nearby moor; a red kite circles overhead
riding the thermals. Frozen to the bone
I lay down my fork and trowel, glancing up
at the pinkish tinge of a frost boding sky.
By the pond, a clump of narcissus
do their damndest to push on through
serried ranks of trenchant meadow grass.
Late spring or not – one small bud, all but
open. I cup its pouting lips in my hands;
each panted breath warming my palms.