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A childhood memory. Dispatched to a surrogate aunt for weekends at their farm. The M2 in Northern Ireland now runs through where this spring was. Cauley is long gone. The farm has been eradicated by modern planning laws and no longer exists. But in my mind I can go back anytime...

Cauley's Spring

Fdf5205c-8b5b-4da8-a6dc-63fe28d680a9by Billy J. Stewart11 Mar 2015

‘Neath Beech and Sycamore,
Through the peppered shadows, flickered patches of evening sun,
We walk down the lane.
Its five o’clock and the air is warm, but the breeze cooling,
And the canopy spreads her boughs,
Strong, searching, enticing, spindly fingers.
I reach the gate, running ahead,
Climbing over the galvanised metal with a bound,
And a skip in my heel.
Cauley follows on,
Calm in her way,
Untying the looped bailer twine on the post to pass through.
Clumping my Wellies to the stream I see the clean, crystal water wash the gravel,
As little creatures dart.
And so…across the field, past the cottage, re-joining the tunnel of trees.
Cauley is with me, as we harvest wild peas and strawberries from the ditch,
Catching white butterflies in cupped hands, with gentleness.
She taught me well, I can do this.
I feel safe.
The lane spills out through overgrown grassy ditches, to the road,
But there in hidden view, behind a straggly branch of Elder, she knows,
Awaits a secret spring.
And reaching over, she draws an old enamel cup
Chipped and full of life’s dinges,
Tied with string to an ancient pipe.
Filling it she hands me the first sup.
Pressing to my lips I find the water,
Cool and sweet.
It goes down and I feel the creeping surge of refreshing cold.
This was worth the walk.
And taking one more sip for the return,
We retrace our steps,
Through the middle earth, in summer’s evening fall,
And a haze of midges caught in the sun’s lick,
Of fields and hedges.