The stream has no respect. It chucks its debris
into unbeavered dams, claims feudal rights
so visitors must dance across
the stepping stones or detour.
The trees are not respected. Robin-flecked,
ivy-strangled. And then decked
with little plastic bags of turd.
On the dog circuit there’s a hierarchy
of nodding. We hone minimalist courtesies:
the cheery ‘morning!’ to the poodle-puller,
‘Hi’ to Mrs Labrador, a gruff ‘orreight?’
to the barrel-chested gun-dog man.
The never-smiling collie-shifter
(different dog, same green mac these ten years)
never fails to greet. Others watch their feet
and when we leave the stream and trees
to natural riot, distance steps in.
Meeting in the wrong place, we have learned
to grace our awkwardness by raising eyebrows.