Across the road

Was a whole different universe,
of course the road was the A40
or the Western Avenue as we called it then.
One side urban west London
the other a seemingly limitless sprawl of brambles
riddled with paths sized for squeezing small children
as if the local mothers had arranged it so
that adults could not blackberry but only
give instructions from the edges.
Everyone brambled in summer
red stained children limping home
at days end with huge leaking bags of berries
and a future full of pies and jam.
The real magic of that place was a stream
clear and sparkling, running over pebbles
in places deep and wide, where
baby brothers could be washed
and drinking cups filled.
The shallows were my solitary joy in spring when
armed with a net and an empty jam jar I searched for
blushed red male Sticklebacks, to bring them home
and watch them, marvelling at
their writhing sinuous shapes,
those outsized blue-green eyes
the sharp stickles on each back.

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Taking part in Sarah Connor’s challenge over at Earthweal.

Here’s Sarah’s prompt:

“So, for this prompt, I’d like you to think about how you first felt connected to nature – maybe as a child, or as an adult. Some of those lost words may inspire you, or you may have your own lost word (or world?) that gave you a sense of wonder at the natural world around you. Maybe you collected caterpillars, or watched birds on a bird-table, or squatted down to watch beetles, or looked up to see squirrels in the treetops.”

14 thoughts on “Across the road

  1. I read this first, then I read Jim’s and saw your comment, and now I want to write about making dens in the hedge and the little copse beyond the waste-ground where you could pick bluebells (because I’m old enough to have picked bluebells – wouldn’t dream of it now!), because you’ve really captured that muddy, messy, berry-stained, water-splashed childhood freedom that we all took for granted. I love the ending, too, those sticklebacks. We are hunter-gatherers, after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had forgotten “sticklebacks”! Your poem really captures the wonder and adventure of childhood, that ability to find something exciting in any locale! Good year for blackberries here…just the right mixture of rain and sun…JIM

    Liked by 1 person

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