Dunston Common

Branches of long-suffering oak
spiral down, nudging 
damp winter earth
like streamers frozen in the twilight
of some forgotten party,

and the year edges 
towards its end
shedding a few last-minute misty tears, not noticing
that no-one is interested.

Even you, who return as always – 
cries of distress at this repeated change in your routine –
same difference, 
accusations into the empty air
of this familiar place where 

half a century ago
my first car stuck in the mud, wheels spinning,
and I wondered how I would get my girlfriend home 
clean, without embarrassment.

Now I watch my brother stand,
wheels spinning,
brain in another time
homing like a bird to this private spot.

By the old church
a thin, sharp shoot of holly 
is growing from a sterile stump.

written almost exactly ten years ago