Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Dry Stone Walls

When people ask me (as they invariably do) what I miss about England, I respond; family, friends and football - in no particular order. I also miss English drama, comedy, theatre, sense of humour, beer and pubs. There are also certain things that have the capacity to make me homesick, but I never knew that the Public Footpath Network and dry stone walls were among them. It seems I am not alone in this.

When I posted photos of my trip home on My Week in Pictures, the Weevil told me it was those very walls that made her want to go home. So this is for her:

Geological Geometry

Grey lines dissect the green hills,
Marking out history with geological geometry.
Where the softer South grows hedges,
The stony North builds walls
To separate the sheep from the goats;
The cows from the arable crops;
The personal profits from the fallow fields.

There are stories in stones;
Placed by hands imparting human shape to the landscape
Following the contours of ancient shifts and rifts;
Settling the wrangles of nosy neighbours
And stopping the stock from wandering;
Retaining plain sailing on rolling pastures
Layering parallel lines with through stones.

Boundaries of boulders to guide and direct;
Selecting the right path and bypassing the pitfalls,
With occasional bolt holes to squeeze through
And narrate a particular past
Without words to cement sentences:
Two stones above a stone
And one above two.