He took what he knew to be his final walk
in the fen late in winter, snow receding,
the tip of his cane making marks
now broad now narrow on the path.
Just beyond, in the bracken, he knelt and set
on the ground, as in avowal,
a watch wrapped in linen.
If she ever acknowledged it
it was only when no one but the ghost
was there to hear it. The silence was to shelter
her petitioner. He wore collapsed brown suede
and a jacket that was “extra severe
and erect of posture,” he was a caution,
he said, “it’s a great story, never tell it again.”
She pulled the cloth from the mud; linnet,
she heard and named; the water eddied
and pooled at her feet; the bird not visible,
warm gray movement in the thicket.
What else lay there to mark the time.
Squelch of mud. Day at its end.
Strip of linen on her boot.