Dunston Common

When my brother came back to Norwich he usually wanted to be taken to Dunston Common, just outside Norwich. This poem, written ten years ago, is not about him, but he is in it.

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.