I feel ashamed, finally,

Of our magnificent paved roads,

Our bridges slung with steel,

Our vivid glass, our tantalizing lights,

Everything enhanced, rehearsed,

A trick. I’ve turned old. I ache most

To be confronted by the real,

By the cold, the pitiless, the bleak.

By the red fox crossing a field

After snow, by the broad shadow

Scraping past overhead.

My young son, eyes set

At an indeterminate distance,

Ears locked, tuned inward, caught

In some music only he has ever heard.

Not our cars, our electronic haze.

Not the piddling bleats and pings

That cause some hearts to race.

Ashamed. Like a pebble, hard

And small, hoping only to be ground to dust

By something large and strange and cruel.

From Wade in the Water. Reproduced with kind permission of Penguin Books UK

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