Over the ridge and down the hill,
where gorgeous, scented, butter- yellow,
the gorse still grows,
we follow a path sheep have made
and roe deer frequent.
At the valley bottom, a different world,
guarded by ash trees awaits us.
We walk through orchard remnants
of gnarled apples to Bushes Barn.
Flint walled, it bears the scars it gathered
in another life,
bricks plug gaps that once were windows.
The thatch is gone now, corrugated sheets
of iron form the roof, but the tap outside
still offers water, and brambles trace
the boundary of the kitchen garden.
There are ghosts here;
we stand and listen, strain to catch the echoes
of footsteps in the yard, the sweeping of a broom.
Inside, we run our hands along the fireplace oak lintel,
lean forward, peer into the ruins of the bread oven,
imagine the children who had waited there impatiently,
hungry for the loaf to be ready:
so long ago but only yesterday.
Only as we turn to go, the ghost reveals itself.
White wings strike towards us, silent
as though even the air beneath them held its breath.
I stand there, disbelieving, transfixed by
the white dish face, the yellow hooked beak.
Its jet eyes glitter in rebuke as it glides away.