Die Back

 

Downpour. Over his ale,
he tells me, Ash wood burns wet.
Trains in disarray, villages
silenced. The English—
forever unprepared. To reach
a bus stop we needed waders.

That website showed us
how to spot the rot: patches
in bark like porter soaking
shirtsleeves; twigs’
black fingernails bared
above canopies.

We fought flash floods
on roads which closed like zips
behind us, to this inn fire
under these ceiling beams.
Some things appear changeless;
there are no tales of tomorrow.

Away in lanes, overhung by ashes’
banana-bunch branches, comes
a creeping flame. Another ale—
he tells me there were fewer
floods, back in his day.