How the swifts’ wings bisected the blue
above the coppice wood –
so sudden shade was first a lack
of speed and height and flight.
Our pupils dilated, our skins cooled.
Our ankles were feathered in dog’s mercury.
I bent, touched sheets of stitchwort, violet, woodruff –
how they were shot with indigo, the warp and weft of bluebell.

How you relaxed, and smiled, and with your finger
smoothed the slowly easing corrugation
that was greening on a hazel leaf,
and told me how coppice cut,
and grown, and cut in every generation,
can live forever.

Jean Atkin