We wandered through a field of bulls. Maybe
You thought me seeing you afraid was worse.
You trudged up a hill of briars and gorse
For a dull view I said we had to see.
You listened to me naming the wild flowers
And thought you ought to learn them off by heart
So that their country names would be a part
Of something we could later say was ours.
But you had never seen a snake until that
Adder basking by the path on Golden Cap.
Its scales, like tiny teeth, compressed at the smell
Of our breaths and I, who’d told you that
I kept snakes as a boy, stepped back
As you leaned closer to watch its neck swell.