Wingscape & Clock

The London Magazine - - NEWS - Matthew Fran­cis

The path grinds it­self into the feet. A grayling skit­ters from un­der the boot toe, and set­tles a stone’s kick ahead.

A few wings of sum­mer left: a chalkhill blue, like a stem­less hare­bell, flail­ing around the an­kles,

a holly blue dulled to laven­der, a small blue dusted with brown, a sil­ver-stud­ded blue van­ish­ing into the sky.

Sun zings off the scrapheap. A cranes­bill has taken root, and a griz­zled skip­per buzzes at it to sal­vage the us­able.

The slow hand­ker­chief of a large white waves in the rail­way sid­ing where the rose­bay wil­lowherb is spin­ning its floss.

The days won’t keep still. At the en­trance to the field, where bram­bles smother the stile, a gate­keeper fid­gets.

A comma is sus­pended in the wood­land mar­gin. A white-let­ter hairstreak is one scrib­ble among many.

In the clear­ing the Duke of Bur­gundy flies its orange bla­zon. The Queen of Spain frit­il­lary is danc­ing in the shad­ows,

while the pur­ple em­peror pa­rades un­der the canopy be­fore alight­ing on a col­la­tion of pony dung.

And, where the bud­dleia toasts it­self by the gar­den fence, a pea­cock comes, wear­ing its plumage of eyes,

and a red ad­mi­ral shuf­fles on a fin­ger of pur­ple, each an­tenna tipped with a pin­head of gleam.

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