The Wishing Pool

On Dartmoor I met a widow who asked me home then said:
“Oh yes, my dear, I know the place.
It’s called the Wishing Pool.
Yes, the water must be noisy now,
there, after such a storm…

When war broke out, they announced it in the newspaper.
(It lay just there on his desk).
Bravely, my husband said nothing,
but I knew it was there he went–
to the Wishing Pool.

There, where moor meets trees,
enchanted, emerald realm, seamed by a weaving stream,
there, where leaves unfurl, unseen, in shadow,
where trees slow-bend through numberless windswept years,
let rain drip through fingers filigreed, to ripple the glazed brook below,
there, where drizzle filled the oozing banks with puddles deep,
flooding his footprints, leaving mud between his toes (toes that I loved)
netting his hair in a million quivering drops.

So when, in no man’s land,
his shell shrieked, his brain burst over the battlefield,
it was there, surely, his strong spirit flew,
there, where water, cold from the moor,
runs deep round granite rocks,
where, perhaps, that evening,
a shocked blackbird, late to shelter, screamed past,
then all was still, save two frantic ferns, waving…
Oh yes, my dear, the water is noisier now, there, after so much rain.”