On the Road to Sleeping Child Hotsprings (1972)

Book Sleeping Child Hotsprings

Poems by Roger Dunsmore ©1972


Occasional sheep, flanks red-streaked
huddle in round sod and stone huts
or shy at the bike.
Once a burned out farm and naked chimney,
dark birds in the scrub.
And out in the heather
a green Morris off the road
with two old guys standing around
as I come pushing my bike uphill.
I think to ask if I can help,
they are quicker:
"Would you like a cup of tea?"
And Christ yes, they've made tea
on a small stove in the middle of the afternoon
in the moors and I say yes.
One hands me a cake
with a cherry on top,
says he baked it himself,
thumps his wooden leg,
France, 1917.
The one with false teeth
drips tea on his splendid tweed jacket
and they tell how in winter
when snow is up to the sills
and a man can't putter in his garden
or paint the gate--
it is very cold,
expecially in the bed at night.
They eat bananas and sandwiches,
but haven't enough for me,
and put a pill in my tea
for they can't take sugar.
One loses the rubber band
he was trying to put around wax paper
over the milk bottle
and I find it in the road gravel.
Before I ride off
they say to tell 'em back in Montana
that I met a couple of guys, anyway,
over here that weren't so bad.

I pump downhill
and across a narrow bridge
grinning so wide
horse's tails sweep a hundred miles of sky