This is a country of tall yellow churches
Where juniper bushes are dispersed
On the brow of hills and seem mid-stride
Like an army in orderly retreat.

In the last village but one a lad
With his jumper pulled up so he seems headless

Pursues a girl with a single thick brown plait
Which jiggles over her buttocks as she runs.

All the syntax of distress has unravelled
When I unpack the car. I would like to dream
Of Byzantium tonight, the great cistern
Which survives, its black water, its walls of red.

I take a broom to sweep cobwebs from the well.
A spider large as my spread hand squeezes

Into a crack. A hornet rises with a twang.
They are the guardians of clean water.

The apple trees are all blossom and knobbly gall.
The walnut is hardly into leaf,
Bud and shoot shading from maroon to green,
Each catkin armoured like a pangolin.

Young Hakos whets his scythe for the yard.
At dusk Yes! Yes! a wolf howls in the forest.

Tomorrow I’ll look for Early Purples
And the beginnings of rarer orchids.