Traveling backwards from Bath to Dorchester
through Freshford, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge,
Westbury, Castle Cary, Yeovil and Maiden Newton,
over hills, through vales, across meads,
reading Time’s Laughingstocks
I delve into the heart of Hardy’s Wessex.
Morning sun glistens on green grass,
cows graze in the shadow of hedgerows,
freshly-shorn sheep lounge on hillsides.
I pass harvested fields, baled hay, falling leaves,
ripening apples, stone cottages with slate roofs.
I walk from Dorchester to Stinsford
beside the gurgling water, visit
Hardy’s grave at St. Michael’s,
explore the church interior,
stand alone at the pulpit
declaiming from the Book of Job.
Through fields and woods I hike
to Higher Bockhampton, stopping
in Thorncombe Wood for sandwiches
beside Hardy’s birthplace, then onwards
across the Roman Road to Lower Bockhampton.
Crossing the Froom I pass freshly-mowed
fields following Hardy’s footsteps to Max Gate.
After a pick-me-up-pint at the Trumpet Major
I stroll back into the centre of Dorchester,
explore the ruins of a Roman villa at dusk,
marvel at intact third-century mosaics
before retiring for dinner at The Royal Oak.
- Nathanael O'Reilly 2015
Nathanael O’Reilly was born in Warrnambool & raised in Ballarat, Brisbane and Shepparton; he currently resides in England. He is the author of Distance (2014) and the chapbooks Suburban Exile: American Poems (2011) and Symptoms of Homesickness (2010), all published by Picaro Press. He is the recipient of an Emerging Writers Grant from the Australia Council. Over one hundred of his poems have appeared in journals & anthologies around the world, including Antipodes, Australian Love Poems, Blackmail Press, Bluepepper, Cordite, fourW, LiNQ, Mascara, Postcolonial Text, Prosopisia, Red River Review, Snorkel, Social Alternatives, Tincture, Transnational Literature, Verity La, Writ Poetry Review and Windmills