Frosty Reception

London, July 2003
Sometimes the path less often trod is merely rough, underfoot.
Today, I walked on Richmond Hill
between paths now poured in bitumen and gravelled finely
to preserve, no doubt, that deeper profundity
of history which still recalls, but vaguely, the poacher's squirrel
unawares alert on a sycamore's vertical scarps
[did they really poach squirrel?]
protecting its impish vulnerability while head-cocking
yellow chested robins scratch out a crust
between the cracks where match-stick legged,
and only ever-so-slightly pigeon-toed, they flit
then fly as three deer claim
the Queen's own common. Soft antlered,
skittish, nose-alert and swivel-eared, they skip
and prop in a six-eyed survival symphony
as minim rests and quavering statuary
detach their faun-speckled flanks from equi-dappled
chestnut-forest light before, unshod nervous,
they slip and trip across a glue-grey sucking creek-bed
where, soft hooves mud-spattered, they flee affronted
from the intruder on the path
less trod.