Littleone

Will you remember the mudstraw hug when,

after autumn lanes of rippling squirrels,

curling beyond the doglost fields,

under hops and round the applebanks

oaks and bracken, strong with horse dung,

sung with crows and blown with diesel,

in a yard hoofclopped with edgebed ironstone,

the colliebarns barking to the rotboarded farmhouse,

we plucked you, bigfoot, balled and furred,

snugged and wombed in the nursery,

slumbersogged and mumbling, out and up?

 

And will you ever see reflected in your colourblind dreams

those wild eyes, bottlebrown, flash and dim

a mocksane warning, and every early morning

duel as with Heracles, flailing that Jurassic mouth,

my wrists and palms in bloody pocks

and festered soft with lickjuice, or

your loosewriggle, yealping, tailbats and rewling,

scrotching the floor, your fritting and snuzzling

(once a madman, twice an adventurer),

or you nosing up surprise between the trousertears,

or gliding amphibious on the wetspilt laminate?

 

 

And when, still in those laceless weeks,

mopbucket puddles swept from the floor and

handspray battles swiped down the drain,

your teeth to our tendons, supergripped and scissorcut

nailed into slippers, sleeves and socks,

did you bottle those smells, of housetrodden dogdung,

my happenburnt toast and airing dogslobber,

or outside, steaming in the sweet pine prunings,

worrying them to the beds and chucking up dewdamp,

or digging out mustmould from the dankrattle shed –

does your nose compose daygame to lay on the scent?

 

Thank the dark that comes in the afternoon,

and you, the toddler, tire and whinge

and whine in a refuse of cheapbottle chewscraps,

night creeping to steal your puppyghost

in taut hours, stretching to bed and blacklight,

crawling gratefully beyond today’s first walk,

its refusals and reverse, chuntered over chestnuts

and barked to heaven on blackrot stumps,

you,  grateful, to your corner, your cage,

shelved by coffeemugs and teatrays, to your bed

where another slept before.