Several weeks ago, on West Road, a poem spontaneously began to write itself, before coming to a river of emptiness too deep to cross. It went like this:
High in the quiet hedgerow
Down in the draining ditch
In private places,
and public spaces
And then a blank. That burst of sound and rhythm was inspired by the first black bag below, which took some disentangling, I can tell you. English hedgerows, both by accident and on purpose, have a lot of snigs and snags, and this was a glove and dexterity job. There's something strangely joyful in the anarchy of purpose which got it there in the first place; a dog-walker abandoning their gravity of responsibililty with a toss, tying up their duty carefully first, and sending their leaden weight of anchorage arcing like a pagan sacrifice into the wild, as elsewhere into the deep wet darkness of the roadside ditch. I don't particularly want to pick these things up; but neither do I want to begrudge the brief eruption of freedom which allows the walker to experience their momentary delight in being weightless. It may - I don't know - enable them to go on. And if my picking up their waste makes life more bearable, then it is a gift to us all.
This one, also on the West Road, but on the South Side, strikes me as slightly tragic in comparison; suspended, rather than hung; aspiring to be unseen, but failing.
This is magnificently caught. We're on the North Road now, at the start of 20 yards of what is known colloquially as "Dog Pooh Alley". I cleaned it all out about three weeks before this picture was taken. On the day of the photograph I counted ten in the ditch, and this one in the hedge. Being black, they are hard to spot; and down in the dark shadow and water of a drainage ditch they meld with dank pads of leaves and oeil-tromping bird-waste and earth-oils. Getting them out is a muddy job.
North Road, West side, like an entry gate with the bag above. In deep, and partnered with the remains of a plastic sheet. The sheet probably blew there in the wind. I don't think that can account for the bag, although we do get some fierce and hard storms. I can imagine a startled dog-walker, taken by surprise and blown into the air like a hapless Mary Poppins, hanging on for dear life to the dog lead connected to her faithful friend digging its paws into the tarmac below, and desperately clutching a pooh bag torn at mercilessly by the wind. Having to choose, she tearfully sacrifices the bag for her friend, letting it go, watching it lift and then disappear, as she crashes to the ground. She picks up her dog and rages madly against the storm, but the bag is gone. She never sees it again.
But what is going on here?