The slap slap slap
of wood pigeon
dropping, then rising
from the pine tree
reminds us that we
are only visiting.

This blue wood
is ours for one more week
before our neighbour
runs his bullocks here:
earth-heavy, slow,
they are the guardians
of these sacred groves.

We are just visiting,
drinking in scent,
our footsteps murmuring
prayers to the
angled sunlight.
We whisper here.

An owl spreads silence.
We are watching,
gazing, all eyes;
all ears; all sense
opened up. Tjese
dappled spaces
form our sanctuary.

For Brendan at earthweal. I’m back. Sort of.


They looked back at the small temple. There was no sign of the bus station that should be behind it, and the noise of the city was absent. Sam frowned, puzzled.

“Why are all these trees in blossom?” she asked.

Jason shrugged. He wasn’t that interested in the temple. It smelled of piss, and somebody had left a load of old chocolate wrappers in there. Maybe it was the same person who had scrawled their name on the wall, and something obscene about a girl called Angela.

“It’s the middle of September”, Sam continued. “Those are magnolias, I think, and that’s cherry blossom”.

She pointed at something white and something pink. Jason shrugged again, and started to head back towards the bus station. They needed to be on the 2 o’clock bus, or his mum would know they’d been skiving. He was hungry, too, and he fancied some chips for the journey home. Sam followed him, still looking round and wondering.

They made their way round to the back of the little temple, still not able to see the bus station. In fact, they couldn’t see anything. A white wall of fog hung behind the temple. They kept walking, until they were back at the entrance. There was a statue inside, Sam noticed. Must have walked straight past it before.

They heard voices behind them, and turned. A group of people in fancy dress were coming up the hill towards them. The women were wearing white, floaty dresses, and the men were in dark coats and trousers that stopped at the knee. They were laughing and chatting, and passed by the two kids without acknowledging them. One of the men was obviously showing off the temple, and the others were all admiring it.

Then the rain started. The group of – what? actors? weirdos? – dashed to shelter under the temple terrace. Sam and Jason followed them, stepping into the temple itself.

“That IS weird”, Jason said, looking round. No smell, no chocolate wrappers, no graffitti.

What the hell had happened?