The Map Lied
A youth in a Barber jacket guards the path with his dogs.
Wet noses nudge; glossed bodies squirm
to be properly at work.
He waits till the walkers reach the crest of the hill;
tells them there’s shooting all week.
Well, the map is wrong; it’s not open access
when 30 grand buys you nine guns for the day.
He watches their faces fill with disappointment;
there’s nothing else to look at
but clouds trailing the scent of heather
to the woods across the valley.
This beater knows a lot about heather,
has felt its springs release beneath his feet,
Sniffed up its bee-busy fragrance,
seen clumps split by dogs with soft mouths
bringing back the birds.
Dozens of small explosions pepper the air.
The moor shudders; shot grouse drop
swift as raptors.
A claxon assaults the hillside, then doors slam
on 4 by 4s. Chauffeurs gun the motors,
and diesel fumes blot the verge
where fat tyres print new maps
At dusk the silence collects itself,
pricked only by the small squeals of roost-bound swifts,
and later the echolocation of pipistrelles
tucking the night sky round the eaves.
Inside the cottage, thwarted walkers coax
a coal fire into cosy; post on Facebook
images of heather so copious it has rerouted their senses.