After I loop through the woods
I know I’ll come back to the lane, the same lane
I’ve been running along for five years but
from this direction it is suddenly unrecognisable –
the hollow at the roots of a huge oak,
the rise of the bank, the sky tunnel of branches
are all unknown to me. And even though
reason is telling me otherwise
something is feeding the beanstalk of trepidation.
And I think of the cat, how after nine years
she can still walk out of the backdoor
and abruptly freeze, every muscle tensed, as if
there might be assassins lurking
between the fruit trees, traps laid in the grass.
So, perhaps wanting to make a point to myself,
instead of turning right for home at The Green
I take the narrow No Through Road behind the pub
I’ve never ran along before and find, at the end,
a footpath that swings me around
onto East Street whose cottages fringe the village.
I suppose I want to believe there is always
a way out and a way through. Because
what else can I do? Collapse into whatever
strangeness and fear I encounter and weep?
How quickly the cat shifts from panic
to acceptance. Look at her rolling
in the dusty earth, as if this place
is what she has always known it to be.