On Ash Wednesday

out come the hoops


to bowl open-

mouthed and breathless


through the rich dust

all morning, down


the long, straight fen

causeway, wooden


and iron hopes

that the wind wants


to carry to



conceptions in

Rome, to the end


of the Ermine

Way and Cardyke,


without one stick

having had to


strike, crying: we

are nought and praise


that we are in

fens of minus.