THAT BEST OF YEARS
On days like this I just want to suck on a boiled sweet
And be a boy called Roger, whose glum existence
Is about to be changed on a gloomy, grey day
At his Uncle’s in the Cotswolds, when a sign
From another world, possibly Saxon, or Jute,
Breaks into the Anglican community at Christmas,
And the bronze-age sword in the drawing room
Begins to glow umber at night, as owls
Hunt voles, and a light frost lands at midnight
On the ruined chestnut trees down the lane.
It is 1970, and there are a few new anthologies
Discussing a young poet called Heaney,
But otherwise, the main idea is that science
Is coming, and the future is geodesic; also,
Population is a time bomb as the covers show,
With the globe shaped like a bomb, with a fuse,
As if Africa was an anarchist in a Conrad novel.
And as Roger’s Uncle has a rather large library,
Which you access via a panel hidden in the pantry,
You have read all the books about jetpacks,
The police action in Indochina, and Aleister Crowley.
It is this last tome, then the others, which you begin
To scour, that lead you to believe he is a necromancer,
Which explains the sword, plus a growing thrum
At night, coming from Farmer Brown’s disused barn.
Then, the squat maid, Mrs Claxton, goes missing,
Inexplicably, and Detective Challenger appears
On the scene with his obnoxious pipe and wellies,
To investigate. It snows constantly, as in Lapland,
And when it stops, it rains like a sou’wester.
The tin mines are closed, and the hills hollowed out.
Arthur’s true seat beckons, and queer signals appear.
A rabbit is found half-skinned, but alive.
Soon it will be the solstice, and who knows what
Could happen then? That is the sort of year
I’d like to have, to feel happening, being sixteen,
Again, in mucky weather, with religious danger
In the air, but an ultimate courage, burning within
My amulet, connecting my spirit to the silver lexicon,
As I was soon to learn that evening at the vicarage.
DECEMBER 13, 2020