HE LIFTS THE BARBED-WIRE

And into the dark woods he slips. Through the black shifting canopy of leaves, the moon, a white splintering eye, is watching. Down and deeper he treads, stride by stride by the side of the dry fly-tip river he moves, stumbling through the crack-snap of the dark undergrowth. An owl screeches. Another replies. The last scent of summer’s wild garlic hangs sour in the air. He stops to piss by a tree. Love, he spits to the splintering moon... Deeper into dark he goes, until finally, he finds it. The twisted trunk of the old den tree, the old corrugated sheet still leaning against the heel of the crook, the ring of stones that served as a fireplace, the rotting log that was once a chair. In the half-dark he gathers dry-dead branches, snapping them right-sized for the fire, and then the short half-blind stumble to the fly-tip where an old Derbyshire Times will serve as kindling. A rat, or a fox, or a scuttling something scurries in his wake as he treads flat the dead bluebells on his way back to the den, where he will light the night-fire, then lay himself down to sleep under the corrugated sheet and dream of that boy again, holding out that corked-bottle in outstretched hand, hooves glinting like oyster shells in the dying wilt of wild garlic, Hello Billy, he grins.