The Haunt of Cinnabar Moths

Inspired by R.G. Cash, ‘Dew Ponds and Doodlebugs, Walderslade within Living Memory’, Lordswood Library.

Somewhere in the shade of beeches, an old man strolls.

He walks in a cloud of nightingales; his ear is filled with blackbirds’ songs,

with nightjars, song thrushes, finches.

Warblers call from the tops of trees. At the edge of the wood

skylarks dip and weave. His step is sure if slow.

He’s walked here for a thousand years, he’s walked here

through all seasons, in thick snow, in spring, in the haunt

of cinnabar moths. Butterflies flicker like fairy lights

his track is crossed by adders, slow worms; lizards

flick their tongues from branches dark with moss.

He cannot imagine another world, a world where names

mark territory with the surety of belonging –

Hale and Swingate, Pantry Wood; Long Plaistow,

Dargate Wood, Crooked Oak and Pantry Field.

He cannot imagine a time when the things he knows have gone

when woods and fields are cleared with machines

he has no idea of. When all this green will be stone and steel

lanes become roads and something called traffic will come to be.

So he walks his journey slow and sure where the twilight

sprinkles diamonds through the leaves

in the haunt of cinnabar moths.