John Clare Catches A Scent of Goose Grass in the Grounds of Northhampton Asylum

some days I dither in the half-light of memory
some days I do not

this morning the wind is whistling—
enough to make an oddling leap—

while catkins on the birches are swaying
east swaying west

and when I tweak at flakes of bark
(touching smooth skin below)

I remember how I climbed up branches
in the village spinney

remember how
I slithered on loose goose grass stems
that trailed through the bents

it was then I loved to pull a goose grass stalk
and tease the sticky knot

Jack-at-the-hedge prickly seed
hug-me-close clingy bead
hide and crouch clapped pouch

even here—
where asylum trees glitter in the sun
goose grass stalks are clambering
up and down my sleeves

this moment and perhaps for twenty more
who I am is clear

and look burrs of goose grass cleave-to-me

they’re kisses from another world

Jan Hutchison

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