Charged with handfuls of hard bread,
We head through the thickening ferns,
Over stones that were the mill,
Now scattered like fight-freed teeth.
The pond lengthens unbrokenly
Between a bus queue of tall trees,
Bleeding shade and loosened leaves.
We’re expecting to see the duck;
A solitary mallard,
Drifting, feathers grease-flattened.
Instead a water rat reclines,
Sunlight smeared like margarine
Over a pelt pasted to its flanks.
It eats our tangled crusts,
Basks in that spangled fluid.