Climbing the Malverns
Picking strawberries, soft fruit caking jeans,
socks nibbled by something in the barn at night.
On a free Saturday, after Friday night revels,
accompanied by hangovers we climbed the Malverns,
all Herefordshire and Worcestershire beneath our feet.
You were a schoolmate I didn’t know too well.
I bowed to your knowledge of British blues bands,
admired your cool. We tried it on with the Irish girls,
then walked on the beacon, wind wiping
school slate clean, landscape misting in the distance.
I had this plan of hitching to Cornwall;
you had it all mapped, a job in cartography.
Children of the suburbs and the Kingston bypass.
White boys’ blues from the Thames delta;
black magic guitar of New Malden’s Peter Green.
Life happened to you. The early wedding:
I look at the picture, the long-gone friends.
Afterwards you headed west. Occasional news.
Children, divorce, another marriage, more kids.
Out of the blue, a school reunion; that old, lazy smile.
A few years later, another message came. Now,
in first flush of our son’s vows, we find ourselves
climbing the Malverns in apple harvest time.
Confetti showers of October leaves. The love
we saw in their faces. Albatross on the pub jukebox.
I raise my glass of cider, Kevin, remembering you.