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Christopher James, from Farewell to the Earth


Rain on the cuckoo flower,
the purple betony, the black knapweed,
the fields and the farm I have set
my sights on, on this June morning run.
Behind me, our house, and our new son
asleep by the window, a blanket
of daylight pulled across his cot
where all nature's artistry
is condensed into his lips and hands.
Before just a thump and kick
now he is a conductor of the air.
This downpour now commonplace,
his name chose itself; we have
weeks of wet and black roads.
The sky, once blue as chicory,
Is now as dark as stitchwort.
The cowslip and hawkbit are in prayer
their heads hung under the weight;
the early corn is dark with rain.
I run past the new restaurant, its
glistening roof and empty car park,
leap over the steps and see jars
of sweet peppers and pickles,
the bored barman watching the rain,
which splashes on my shoulders.
Above me the lapwing and sandpiper
circle the crops; below, the factories
steam into the golden-edged grey.
At home, you are holding him
reading his eyes and him reading yours
while a rainbow pours out of a cloud.
His fingers move to the percussion
of the heavens on the window,
the sound of the sky in flood.