WALKING IN FILTHY NOVEMBER
Below the road, where the brook runs
under half-unleafed oak trees,
cattle stand in patient misery:
a brown calf lies on sodden turf.
Axle-foundered in black-treacle mud,
an abandoned bulldozer has raised
its claw in final surrender:
waving and drowning.
We lean uphill steadily
toward the reservoir, staggered
by occasional cross-fire from the wind,
otherwise sheltered; no rain as yet.
But once we are exposed, traversing
open slopes of water-logged moor,
rain advances, drumming us to cover;
to crouch behind broken walls
until its force is spent; then climb the ridge,
brown water flooding round our ankles;
at last, on the platform of Stoodley Pike,
begin to sense the weather's malice.
And so the final trudge, high over Calder,
wind's dulled bombardment at our backs;
then right for home. But a gritstone wall's
poor shield against the sudden assault,
that crashes out from ambush, rain and hail
driving ferocious at our flank,
while sky and empty moor explode
like a revelation of evil.