Twenty Minute Walk
by Angela France
a little more than twenty minutes,
if you take the path through the old cutting.
Turn into the lane where the fence bulges
with the sprawl of ivy and viburnum, where
tree-roots push steel posts to drunken leaning.
Before you go through the gap by the bridge,
allow yourself a minute to rest your hands
on the parapet, to look down on the space
once ruled by cold iron; see how relentless
are blackthorn and nettle in the blur of straight lines.
There is always a wet patch at that gap, take care
not to get stuck in noticing how bent and trodden
grass persists through puddled mud.
The steps cut into the bank can be slippery. Go slow
so that you can hear the traffic noise fade
as if you’re stepping into deep water:
long grass waves like kelp fronds, the air filters green.
You’ll need two minutes to stop at the blackbird’s warning,
to watch a wren flutter through the shabby tangle of hawthorn.
Follow the line of the cutting to the end
where the blinded tunnel holds stories of the lost
in the sooty smears on the wall, the empty bottles.
Climb the path by the tunnel, turn back to the road
next to the house smothered in wisteria: you’ll want
some time to measure what is hidden
in its folds and tangles. Don’t lose yourself
in its twists.