Between Friends

Marilyn Hammick

We are walking the Thames Path
between Windsor and Brunel’s Sounding Bridge
 - a stag beetle joins us for three inches,
newly hatched dragonflies cross
from one hedgerow to the other,

we are talking about a newish friend,
her cat, the discreet but obvious wig,
when you press me into promises about
how I must tell you when your house
becomes full of books and magazines and newspapers
when there’s only one way though each room.
When there are real piles, you explain,
that’s when you must tell me. Not just
a few weekend supplements kept for the crossword,
not just books to be read or for the charity shop.

You insist that I tell you, as we pass
wood pigeons, magpies, pheasants,
when there are real piles, piles
that will un-pile if the wall or stair rail
or a chair are not there to intervene.

We pause at Boveney Church, read about galletting,
courtesy of the Friends of Friendless Churches,
and, by this ancient chapel of ease,
I promise myself to remind you of when
we walked all day for several days
beside the windblown river,
smelt roses, honeysuckle, linseed,
heard the beat of a swan flying low
under the world’s widest, flattest brick arch,
saw slivers of flint piece the end-of-day light.

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