|Bradford-on-Avon, frosty morning|
All the tree colours, the length of the canal, from Limpley Stoke Bridge, to here, Bradford-on-Avon. Green yellow and orange of the beech trees. Pale green and light yellow of the hazel trees, with thin trunks growing in clusters and light falling like stars on the ground.
A night cloud (one that pulls the light across the sky like a curtain, coming from the south west) has a face, and its eye has a star-shaped pupil. When the sun finally disappears, it leaves a frosted red canopy, a scarf of memory, of indulgence, like burnt time, the embers of all it has left behind.
A silent squirrel, in the village of Whimsy, runs along a wall and rustles up a tree, a cavorting leaf. A second one, displaying a different emotion, hot-pawed, clatters along the wall, performs a squint and clumsy pirouette around the same tree. The sky is bare blue, no wind in this silent village and no signs of human life.
Until that is, we reach the 7 Stars inn, sit at an outside table, sun warm on our faces, eat cake, drink local cider.
The path through the beech wood tumbles downhill, stones, mud, a canopy of fallen leaves. The grass fields are vivid green. In the valley, there’s the railway, the canal, with its clump of boats settled on its surface like coloured mistletoe and the road, with its hum of sound tunnelling through fields and forest, dipping underground, a low growl – I’d like to take you on a slow boat to China plays through my head – before that it was Parchment Farm ‘ain’t gonna do no-one no harm’ - the hazel leaves have serrated edges, often with points at the top – often, but not always – rounded and lace-edged.
Leaves of another plant are divided – one half green, the other pink, in the garden near the Cross Guns inn, by the aqueduct at Avoncliff, where the train stops sometimes, but not always and you can walk across the track. Canal water, quite still in no hurry, is carried aloft on the aqueduct, above the railway, over the river, and leaves float almost unmoving, in the unrestless water, unpulled by tide or moon, or any longed-for destination.
The leaves are coloured green, yellow, orange and red. And sometimes russet brown. They float, exotic stitches, dropped in the languid waterway that links and crosses the countryside, an erratic lace pattern of leys and loops and crossings out, a script that wanders, marks the passageways, the runnels and the ditches of time’s notches and its crossings, its noughts and stitches, its crosses and its kisses.
Sometimes, in winter evenings, wood in the stove turning red just like the sunset, and the boat tips just a little, just reminds you that you’re afloat, I feel there are good thing brought in by time, through some vents or apertures I cannot see but I’m reminded of by floating leaves, as if they mask a drain that water flows through, can’t resist, the way light can’t resist the lure of the horizon, when the sun tugs light, to go with it. Through the cracks and veins, the gaps and contours of time’s swell, as subtle as the rocking of this boat the good things slip and settle, dip and breathe. And outside, the Pleiades, low down in the winter sky.