Poem of the week: The Porch Light by David Wheatley


This quiet poem, about the ways locations both literal and metaphorical can be kept open, is wonderfully musical

The Porch Light

Birchwood ankle-deep in leafy mulch:
borrowed green of a buried can of Grolsch,
all living streams iced over or departed;
wrecks of chestnuts echoing, empty-hearted,
hollow victories woodpeckers tap
on trunks picked open for a place to sleep.
The breeze’s whistling summons and refines
itself to a buzzard’s wheep beyond the pines,
where arrowheads of geese above the farm
lock onto, lose their target and reform.
Eggbox hills that line the far horizon
draw a ribbon out of slowly rising
tracks that circle straggling round the village
millponds, quarries, setts, a gateless gate-lodge
keeping nothing in or out. A dipper
breasts the Don and wades in deep and deeper;
a porch light glimpsed among trees might be my house.
The path wants feet, it will not matter whose.
Whose woods these are I couldn’t claim to know,
the way I go all ways, on in back through.

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