Fallow by Chris Chilton
 
.... you descend towards a tree-girdled pond
on a path through a meadow at the fringe of town
with great views towards the moors and their towers
and sometimes a dog with its walker lower down,
though such is the suck and pull of the open air
they’re unlikely to disturb the stillness.
Earlier in the year I’d stood and watched
smoke from moorland fires rise in pale grey plumes
from the peat blanketed hills
as helicopters carried water from Wayoe
in underslung pouches to douse the wild blaze,
looking for all the world like midwifing storks.
But now it’s peaceful; a hum of traffic,
a caw of a crow, a scuff of shoe on the
loose stones beneath my feet as I approach
the elders to my left, the hush of a breeze
passing softly through their leaves.
 
When it bursts out from among them
and hurtles my way I’m shocked, transfixed
by an elemental fear of the unfiltered force
of pulsing life and the wild, animal
lust for self-preservation.
Adrenaline’s alive and coursing through
my braced body as she bounds closer,
her back an aboriginal artwork of
geometric beauty and psychic power,
twenty feet, maybe less, until fear of me
overcomes the fear that drives her,
and she veers into the longer grass
and slaloms up the hill in an elegant glide.
At the hedge bordering the road she veers again,
skirts the far boundary of the field at a trot
until she reaches the cover of a small, dense copse.
I wait for some time, hoping for her re-emergence,
imagine her watching me from the safety of the trees,
playing it safe,
harbouring its instincts.